Tag Archive | "pico de gallo"

¡Por Vida! — Helping You Eat Healthier, So You Can Live Better

By Chris Dunn

¡Por Vida!

That’s the name of a new program designed to help diners make healthier choices at San Antonio area restaurants.

It was recently launched by The Healthy Restaurants Coalition, a partnership among the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the San Antonio Restaurant Association, the San Antonio Dietetics Association, the Mayor’s Fitness Council, and interested people in the community.

The coalition hopes to promote healthier food choices in restaurants and better nutrition within the community by identifying those menu items that meet nutritional guidelines developed by The Healthy Restaurants Coalition.

Participating restaurants will display the red and yellow “¡Por Vida!” logo (a yellow fork and spoon intertwined in the shape of a heart on a red background) beside the qualifying menu items.  Detailed nutritional information will also be available on request.

During a conference announcing the program, Dr. Fernando Guerra, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, pointed to the “tragic trends” of obesity and diabetes especially among children in our community.  He stressed the importance of reaching young children at “a critical stage of development,” citing statistics that, without intervention, 30  to 40 percent of them will be obese by grades 3 or 4.

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro singled out the unique, cooperative spirit that exists among the participating organizations. “Healthier eating is recognized as a community responsibility,” he said, adding. “Here, restaurants are proactive.”

Charter participating restaurants include McDonald’s, Pico de Gallo, Jim’s Restaurants, Delicious Tamales, Fish City Grill, Carino’s Italian Restaurants and the RK Catering Group.

Professional dietitians worked with each participant to identify or create entrées and side dishes that meet nutritional standards developed by the Healthy Restaurants Coalition. No more than 700 calories, 23 grams total fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 0.5 gram transfat, and 750 milligrams sodium will be in an adult entrée and two side items.  Children’s nutritional standards have also been developed.

A number of local dignitaries praised the program’s goals.

Ruben Cortez, president of the San Antonio Restaurant Association, said, “San Antonio has our commitment.” But he added that, though “market forces are key” for ¡Por Vida! to be successful, the consumer will ultimately determine the success of the program.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said that, along with making healthy choices in what people eat, they must also exercise.  “We need to tie the two together,” he said.

Rayna Wooten, president of the San Antonio Dietetics Association, noted that “San Antonio is in the battle for its life” against obesity and diabetes, while State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said the biggest problem our community faces is “what’s on our dinner plate.”

Chris Dunn is a contributor to SavorSA and an organizer of ¡Por Vida!

Posted in NewsComments Off on ¡Por Vida! — Helping You Eat Healthier, So You Can Live Better

Chefs’ Corner: Chilled California Avocado Soup from Biga on the Banks

Chilled California Avocado Soup with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo

The lure of smooth avocado purée mixed with the lively crunch of shrimp and pico de gallo is the foundation of this recipe, which comes from Martin Stembera, chef de cuisine at Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St. But the secret doesn’t stop there. Flavors of orange, lime and honey as well as garlic and shallots all combine to make a rich treat that is cool and refreshing on a hot Texas day.

Chilled California Avocado Soup with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo

2 teaspoons canola oil
4 medium shallots, sliced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup plus 2 ounces fresh orange juice, divided use
16 ounces chicken stock (2 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 to 3 ripe California avocados
Salt, to taste
Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo, for garnish (recipe follows)

Orange Shrimp Pico de Gallo:
4-6 shrimp
1 teaspoon canola oil
Pinch of chopped garlic
Pinch of shallot
Orange juice
Diced onion, to taste
Diced serrano or jalapeño, to taste
Diced and seeded tomato, to taste
Chopped cilantro, to taste (optional)
Orange oil (optional)

For the soup: In soup pot, turn heat on medium low to warm up oil. Then, add shallots with garlic and let them cook slowly until they have released some liquid and are transparent. Add 1/4 cup orange juice and reduce by half. Then add chicken stock and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Chill this mixture and then blend it until smooth.

Add lime juice, honey and 2 avocados and blend until smooth. If soup is too runny add remaining avocado; if it’s too thick add additional orange juice. Season with salt to taste.

Serve chilled with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo.

For the pico: Cut 4-6 large cleaned shrimp into bite size pieces and sauté in a little oil with shallot and garlic until shrimp turn pink.

Remove shrimp from pan and put orange juice in the pan, reducing it until it becomes thick.

Add shrimp back to pan, toss with the orange juice reduction and chill. After shrimp mixture is chilled, add 4-6 tablespoons of your favorite pico de gallo recipe or a mixture of chopped onion, serrano, tomato and cilantro, if using. Add a few drops of pure orange oil for an extra orange punch, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From Martin Stembera of Biga on the Banks

Posted in Chefs' Corner, FeaturedComments Off on Chefs’ Corner: Chilled California Avocado Soup from Biga on the Banks

Healthier Kids’ Menu at Pico de Gallo


Kathy Shields, Chronic Disease Manager, SA Metropolitan Health District

By Chris Dunn
Special to SavorSA

Pico de Gallo, 111 S. Leona St., has announced its commitment to improving the health of the children of San Antonio by introducing a new children’s menu that focuses on “lighter, healthier, and appropriately-sized options.”

Supporters in attendance at Thursday’s unveiling included Dr. Fernando Guerra, director of Health at Metro Health; San Antonio Restaurant Association president Lita Salazar; Dion Turner, president of the San Antonio Dietetic Association; San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson; and State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, District 26.

Pico de Gallo’s owners and staff worked for the past six months with the Healthy Restaurants Coalition, led by Metro Health in partnership with SARA, local dietitians, health educators, and other interested participants, to develop a menu that features 20 healthy items, including entrées, side dishes, desserts, and drinks that have less than 5 grams of fat and no more than 10 grams of added sugar.

“I am proud to be on the forefront of this effort and look to my industry peers to join us,” said Ruben Cortez, whose family owns Pico de Gallo.


Sen. Van de Putte, the Mayor, and Ruben Cortez

On the menu, a cartoon rooster, Little Pequín, points children to the healthy choices. Items include entrées, such as Grilled Chicken Tenders and Beef or Chicken Soft Tacos, side items, such as Spanish rice and carrots or green beans, and desserts, such as fruit cup and apple sauce.

Van de Putte emphasized the importance and urgency of this initiative:  “An entire generation will be burdened by chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure before they even reach 18 unless we take action now.”

Adkisson noted that the incidence of diabetes in San Antonio is twice the national average and, in addition to individual pain and suffering, costs the county $100 million a year.

Castro pointed out the potential benefits that can come from this kind of cooperative effort. “When entities are willing to work together for the greater good, tremendous things happen,” he said.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Healthier Kids’ Menu at Pico de Gallo

Chef’s Corner: Rosario’s Shrimp Nachos

Rosarios Shrimp NachosWith two popular downtown  San Antonio restaurants to her credit, Lisa Wong continues to reign among the city’s top restaurateurs.  Rosario’s Mexican Cafe y Cantina, 910 S. Alamo St., and Acenar, 146 E. Houston St., are popular with tourists, but also bring plenty of San Antonio locals downtown.

Rosario’s Shrimp Nachos are perennial favorites.  The warmed pico de gallo makes a flavorful sauce and the combination of shrimp and melted cheese can’t go wrong.

Rosario’s Shrimp Nachos

6 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
12 fried tortilla chips for nachos, preferably homemade
Pico de gallo
1/4-to 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Guacamole, your recipe, for garnish
Pico de gallo:
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup white onion, diced
7 or 8 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Lisa Wong of Rosario'sTo make pico de gallo: Place tomato, onion, cilantro, minced and seeded jalapeño and lime juice in one bowl. Mix well, then set aside.

To make nachos: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice shrimp in half lengthwise for 12 pieces.  Over low-to-medium heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Add shrimp and sauté about 1 minute per side or until cooked through. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.

Sauté pico de gallo in same pan with remaining butter-garlic mixture for 1-2 minutes till cooked through.  Set aside.

Take 12 nacho chips (triangular corn chips, homemade preferred) and place on cookie sheet. Place a shrimp half on each chip and top with pico de gallo and grated Monterey Jack cheese. Place in oven until the cheese is melted and the nachos are hot.

After you take them out of the oven top each nacho with guacamole and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From Lisa Wong of Rosario’s.

Posted in Chefs' Corner, FeaturedComments (1)

Griffin to Go: Foodie Phone Calls

griffintogo2The phone call arrived just in time for my hunger pangs to kick in.

OK, those of you who know me even slightly know that if I’m conscious, I’m generally hungry.

Still, the call came in at around 6 p.m. I’d been at the keyboard most of the day, and I was trying hard not to think of having to get up to fix dinner.

“You’ll never guess what I just had for dinner,” she cooed into the receiver.

Yes, it was like phone sex in the way that you can have food porn, words and images of food that just, well, arouse something within you. To paraphrase Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart, I may not know how to describe it, but I know it when I see/hear it.

My friend Carol from upstate New York was gushing on about how she had  baked the perfect sweet potato and topped it with a showering of fresh peas from her garden. Fresh peas are something we rarely see in this hot-as-Hades climate, so already my mouth was watering.

“Then I had a salad that I created out of thin air,” she continued, describing the three types of lettuces she had also picked from her garden. She tossed in some fresh dill, slivers of cucumber, chopped walnuts (not from her garden), just-picked blueberries and crumbles of goat cheese (also not from the garden). A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and 25-year-old balsamic vinegar finished off the dish.

griffintogo1“It was scrumptious,” she said. She even sent photos of the greens to prove how gorgeous it must have been.

That’s what foodie friends do. They love to talk about the meals they just had, the fresh items they just gathered from their gardens, the dishes they just had in (fill in name of foreign city) on their latest trip, the wine they drank while watching the sun set.

I got even with Carol by describing the half-dozen figs I harvested today, sending her off into daydreams of stuffing them with goat cheese and drizzling honey on top.

Somehow, this turned the conversation to wine, a trip we had taken to Napa Valley a few years back, restaurants we had eaten at, favorite flavors we missed.

By the time, the call was over, I had my dinner menu planned and ready to go. I, too, was going to have steamed peas (frozen ones, I’ll grant you, but vastly superior to canned). My touch would be to add butter and some mint from my garden.

I have often made a meal out of just that, but I went a few steps further tonight. I sliced some leftover rib-eye and heated the pieces only slightly. I then topped them with a pico de gallo made of minced red onions from the farmers market tossed with diced tomatoes, banana pepper and a fiery jalapeño from the backyard. Instead of salad, I opted for a few Kalamata olives, and the whole meal was ready in less than 10 minutes, including harvest time.

A glass of rosé on the side gave everything an added glow.

For dessert? Two of those figs. No goat cheese. No honey. Something that perfect doesn’t need to be dressed up.

Half a country away, we managed to share meals that nourished both body and friendship. Thanks, Carol.

Posted in Blogs, What's Hot!Comments (4)