Here in California, there aren’t many places you can go without being reminded that we live in the country’s health and fitness capital. That’s not a bad thing. I need those, sometimes not-so-friendly, reminders that I’m all I’ve got, and it’s probably a good idea to treat my body right every once in a while. Last week, I talked about dining at food trucks without compromising the diet. Yes, we can enjoy delicious, healthy and nutritious foods, prepared with the passion and creativity that only a true chef could ever possess – at food trucks in California.
We were curious… at how many other trucks could we find some healthy options, if we set our minds to it? Would it really be that difficult? Just last week, I named several food trucks that offered more healthful menu items either on their main menus, or on special request menus. So, we took a little road trip around our great state; we were at our Santa Barbara location, so we started from there.
Beginning in our own backyard…
O Street Truck brings gourmet Mediterranean, French-Mex & French Vietnamese fare with locally sourced, artisan ingredients to the streets of Santa Barbara. Owner, Liz Bradley worked as a pastry chef for about a decade before launching the O Street Truck and her dream to bring her Provencal fare to the streets at street prices.
Liz’s Tomato Pesto Pizza is made with a French Pastry Crust and Provençal toppings, or try the Goat Cheese and Onion Pizza. It’s Kosher, AA butter pâte brisée pastry, and vegetarian.
And, on the side, try her Tomato Basil Soup. It’s the perfect partner to a crispy slice of pizza.
Then, we take a trip south to the Food Farm in sunny San Diego.
Chef / Owner, Kari Rich studied under great chefs Alaine Redelsperger currently of Chez Michel in San Francisco, and Paul McCabe, currently of Kitchen 1540. She honed her skills in French, Mediterranean, Asian, and South American cuisines under the direction of Executive Chef Jesse Paul, then spent her career in fine dining restaurants in Los Angeles. Chef Kari now has a passion for preparing local, organic, and sustainable food from scratch and is excited to bring her food to hungry San Diegans via her Food Farm truck.
Next, we’re back on the road, heading north on Interstate 5 to beautiful, Orange County for a visit with Chef Stephanie Morgan at Seabirds. Known to her growing list of followers as the “Mama Bird,” Stephanie has an extreme passion for vegan cooking and organic produce all supplied by a community of local growers.
Her mission: Simple. Take the fear out eating vegan by showing the public that vegan doesn’t have to mean boring or tasteless. Actually, it can be quite fun.
Morgan and her crew of six, equally passionate vegan foodies, referred to as “birds,” tour around Southern California, feeding throngs of diners, eager for her fresh, healthy fare. Chef Stephanie’s, Seabirds has become quite a favorite around SND; read more about her in our interview a few months ago.
Next stop, Los Angeles – the mother lode of food trucks in California. We knew long before we arrived that it would not only be very easy to find healthful menu options on food trucks in Los Angeles, but it was going to be a difficult choice. We decided that we couldn’t choose only one… we compromised, and found two. First, a stop at Cali Banh Mi; it’s much more than a sandwich.
We couldn’t leave Los Angeles without making a stop at Komodo, owned by Erwin Tjahyadi, who also owns a popular Los Angeles eatery by the same name. Tjahyadi apprenticed under the likes of Wolfgang Puck, before venturing into his own brick and mortar establishment, then the Komodo truck, and he’s been featured on The Travel Channel and Gourmet Magazine.
The chicken is topped with flaky stir-fried rice that’s speckled with flecks of green onion, and toasted sesame seeds, before it’s topped with sweet Mandarin orange sections that have been dusted with the toasted sesame seeds.
We’d need to revisit Los Angeles about a dozen times to get a taste of the tons of healthy options their talented chefs are serving up. So, we’re getting back onto Interstate 5, and heading north to the San Francisco Bay Area. We discovered Liba Falafel Truck during our San Francisco Road Tour last year. Actually, we first learned of Liba’s when we saw her on an episode of Food Network’s, Eat St.
It’s hard to miss the bright lime green painted truck. But even if you’re color blind you certainly can’t miss the consistent line of people, many of whom are regulars, returning week after week to indulge their cravings for everything Falafel.
Owner and creator of Liba Falafel Gail Lillian turned a traditional staple food for vegetarians and lovers of Middle Eastern cuisine food into an art. Gail prepares her Falafels fresh daily and shapes them into golf ball sized nuggets by hand finally frying them until golden brown.
Her most popular menu item is the Falafel sandwich ~ a pita pocket filled with several bite size balls (the exact amount depending upon the size of your sandwich) Liba offers two – small and large. After you’re served your sandwich you can then step over to the Falafel Bar where you’ll find an array of home made toppings to dress your sandwich to your hearts desire.
Just minutes outside San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge, we discovered Ebbett’s Good to Go in Berkeley. Two stay-at-home moms found themselves growing bored of their daily schedules after their kids had gone off to school full-time, so they started a food truck business. Owners, Shari and Suzanne believe that lunch should not be a soulless experience, and with the bounty of the Bay Area as their muse and their commitment to sustainable farming as their guide, they strive to create sandwiches (using sustainably-raised meats and locally grown organic produce, of course) of which their customers just can’t get enough.
Ebbett’s Good to Go offers gourmet sandwiches like spicy Cuban pulled pork with ham, gruyère, jalapeňo relish and chipotle mayo; Guinness and coffee braised short ribs with horseradish mayo, pickled red onion and watercress; and shredded tofu and Vietnamese-style Banh Mi with house-baked Hodo Soy Beanery tofu, pickled carrots, cucs, piquillo peppers, spicy pesto and sriracha mayo, all served on Acme Bread rolls.
From Berkeley, we jumped back into the car, then headed further north on Highway 101 to Santa Rosa for a stop at Street Eatz, where co-owners, Jillian Dorman and Alma Mendez offer some incredibly tasty and healthy menu options, including Agedashi tofu, grilled Mahi Mahi tacos, Mediterranean Plate with hummus, flatbread and salad.
Finally, we finish our trip off with a drive northeast on Interstate 80 to Sacramento for an open-faced falafel sandwich at Mama Kim on the Go. We met up with Kim Scott (Mama Kim), owner of Mama Kim on the Go a few weeks back for Wellness Wednesday, and had a taste of these delicious falafels.
Mama Kim offers at least one vegan item on her menu, in addition to several low calorie, low fat items. Even Mama Kim’s homemade sweet potato chips are sliced thin and fried in rice bran oil, providing an excellent source of dietary fiber, Vitamin B6 and Potassium, Vitamin C and Manganese. The sweet potato has fewer calories than a Russet potato, and contains no fat.
This was one long 800+ mile road trip, and we know there are certainly far more than nine food trucks in California offering more healthful menu options. Tell us about your favorites in the comments here. We’d love to hear about them!