Restaurant Rec: 5 Napkin Veggie Burger

I’m always asked about what are the options when eating out.  And yes, I’m a fan of eating out from time to time, as a treat, but that just does not mean you can throw everything away and eat with abandon!  Actually, the better you are able to make modifications, the better off you will be in the long term navigating menus and restaurant options.  Hence, a new series of posts with some recommendations about eating out. 

five-napkin-veggieThe Vegetarian 5 Napkin Burger:  Let’s face it, when you are looking to skip cooking and eat out, a good veggie burger is hard to find.  5 Napkin Burger has featured this Veggie burger for quite some time, and it is indeed a tasty confection.  Full disclosure that waiters are always eager to point out, this is  NOT a vegan burger, some eggs are used to bind the patty ingredients.  But the combination of beets, brown rice and sunflower seeds and seasonings together with the multi grain roll make up for a hardy and tasty burger.  I love this burger, but as always, a few suggested changes can make this treat a healthier one.  I graciously request that no “special sauce” is added, it does seem to be mayo or dairy based (I asked whether it was dairy based once and they said “most likely”. (?!) and hence chuck full of calories. I use the Dijon mustard that is already in the table for an added kick. I also like the pickle garnish of the burger, just note that they definitely are high in sodium. And the kitchen will also gladly replace the fries that come in the plate (yes, you can say no to that!) with steamed broccoli or another steamed veggie side.  So go ahead and give it a try let me know how it goes.



Beware Mediterranean Madness

DSCN9305No one loves the Mediterranean more than me—the pic is of me on honeymoon there last summer! But don’t believe all the hype you’re reading about the new study around the Mediterranean Diet. I’ve been lucky enough to work with several doctors who inform my approach and program on healthy eating. Please check out this note from Dr. Ornish in the Huffington Post pointing to the flaws in the study (thanks Jeff Novick for sharing!). In a nutshell, avoid any olive oil or refined oils in your diet, you can get plenty of natural fats in unrefined plant-based dishes and with a lot more nutrients.


Can’t Miss Marinara Sauce

MarinaraThis no-fail, can’t-miss sauce can be made in advance and used in a variety of recipes. Kids will love it on whole-wheat pizza! Double the recipe and freeze half as a delicious and simple staple sauce.



Can’t Miss Marinara Sauce
Makes about 7 cups

1 yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 cup no added sodium vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons No Salt Added Italian Seasoning (or a combination of dried oregano and basil)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tablespoon of no-salt added tomato paste
4 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons fresh basil, stemmed and chopped
1 dried bay leaf

To prepare the sauce: In large sauce pan over medium-high heat, steam sauté the onion and garlic with a tablespoon of water or broth at a time to avoid sticking, stirring frequently until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add water or broth as needed to prevent sticking.  Add the herbs.  Add the tomato paste and continue cooking onion mixture until it starts to darken, about 2 more minutes.  Add tomatoes.  Cook on low to medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes. As sauce begins to thicken, add any remaining broth and black pepper to taste. When done, turn off heat and add fresh herbs.  Serve over whole-wheat pasta or cool to room temperature and freeze for later use.

Recipe Repertoire: Fat Free “Refried” Beans

Fat Free "Refried" BeansI love having these beans as a readily available snack in the fridge with crudités or no salt added oil free crackers.  I have been known to make tacos with warm corn tortillas, and a dollop of fresh salsa and chopped lettuce.  Voila dinner or lunch!  Feel free to add a jalapeno or some chili powder to make it spicy as well.


Fat Free "Refried" Beans IngredientsFat Free “Refried” Beans
Makes about 3 cups

3 cups cooked pinto beans or black beans, may also be canned no-salt-added, rinsed and drained
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Fat Free "Refried" Beans Ingredients Chopped1 cup no added sodium vegetable broth or water
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper powder (optional)

In a sauté pan over medium-high heat add the onions and stir frequently.  Steam sauté the mixture by adding about 1 Tablespoon of vegetable stock at a time just to avoid the onions from sticking and Flash Steam Onionscook until the onions begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cumin and sauté for another minute adding water/broth in Tablespoon increments as needed. Reduce the heat to low, and add the cooked beans, about half a cup of broth, cumin, and cayenne pepper (if using), stir to combine, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and using a food processor, a potato masher or a fork, to mash the beans to your desired texture, adding additional Fat Free "Refried" Beans Tacos Overheadliquid if needed.  These may also be pureed on a food processor.

The Road to Wellness

JPCweddingcropHi! I’m Chef Juan Pablo Chavez and I promote the benefits of a healthy eating lifestyle. I teach a series of classes in a fun, easy and approachable way and showcases the many benefits of a plant based diet through fresh and delightful recipes, tips and strategies for everyone.

Are you tired of following fad diets only to gain weight back even faster?  Is calorie counting and portion control too confusing?  Ready to take your health back and reboot yourself?   Then let’s get started!Beans Jamie

Join me in a quick and easy program focused on tasty, delicious whole food that will boost your nutritional intake, keep hunger at bay and even make you loose weight in the process!  I will provide a wealth of knowledge from doctor—in a no nonsense way and without any mumbo jumbo—thanks to my hands-on experience as the Wellness Chef at Whole Foods Market working with folks just like you.  I will also give you some tools and techniques so that busy individuals like you can cut to the chase and get back in top form through simple lifestyle changes.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the program.

Contact me info [at]