4 Healthy Spins on Food Truck Fare

Photo: Justin McChesney-Wachs
Photo: Justin McChesney-Wachs

Successful food trucks showcase quality food and ingredients in simple yet decadent meals that taste homemade. The most popular trucks, like L.A.’s Son of a Bun, can work up quite a queue. Skip the line with these four health-conscious spins on our favorite food truck fare.

Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

You’ll want to put this savory cheese sauce on everything. Cauliflower is rich in vitamins C and K and has been shown to help fight inflammation.

Ingredients
1 small head cauliflower, florets removed and chopped
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
½ small yellow onion, diced
2 T flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup chicken bone broth
1½ cups Gruyére or Monterey Jack cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup sliced almonds
12 ounces Rigatoni (or favorite) pasta
Salt and pepper

Directions
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast for 20–25 minutes, tossing once, until golden. Turn oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, drain and put in a 9×13-inch baking dish prepared with non-stick spray. In the meantime, heat the butter in a large saucepan oven medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt, and sauté for 10 minutes, until golden. Add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon for one minute. Whisk in the milk and bone broth and let bubble until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5–6 minutes. Stir in the cheese, until smooth. Turn off the heat and whisk in the egg. Immediately add the cheese sauce to a food processor, along with the cauliflower, and purée until smooth. Pour the cheese sauce into the dish with the pasta, stir to combine and top with the almonds. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes, until top is golden.

Photo: Justin McChesney-Wachs

Braised Chicken Tacos

This insanely flavorful, slow-cooked chicken will wow your taste buds. Plus it’s a great way to add veggies to this lean-protein-packed plate.

Ingredients
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 sweet yellow onion, sliced
2 poblano peppers, sliced
1, each, red and yellow bell peppers, sliced
2 T canola oil
2 T chili powder
1½ T cumin
1 T paprika
1 T pure maple syrup
Salt and pepper
2 cups white wine
8 corn tortillas
½ cup queso fresco, crumbled
2 small avocados, sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Directions
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the peppers and onions with the oil, spices, maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread onto two large baking sheets and roast for 20–25 minutes, tossing once, until golden. Turn oven to 275 degrees.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place in an extra large baking dish. Scatter the peppers and onions over the chicken, and cover with the white wine. Bake for 3–4 hours in oven (or in slow cooker on high, if preferred), until chicken easily tears apart with a fork. Remove from oven, let cool, shred chicken with a fork, and toss with the peppers, onions and juices. Heat the tortillas in a pan or over an open flame. Fill each tortilla with a scoop of the chicken mixture. Top with a sprinkle of queso fresco, avocado slices and cilantro leaves.

Photo: Justin McChesney-Wachs

Korean BBQ Bowl

Traditional BBQ beef (Bulgogi) can stand alone, but this iron-rich protein truly shines when paired with tangy kimchi (full of probiotics that aid in healthy digestion), creamy fried egg and peppery greens. This recipe has “recovery meal” written all over it.

Ingredients (for beef)
1½ pounds top sirloin (recommend grass-fed)
½ pear, chopped
½ sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 T fresh ginger, minced
½ T fresh garlic, minced
2 T, each, toasted sesame oil, tamari, brown sugar

Ingredients (divide evenly among the 4 bowls):
2 cups cooked quinoa or rice
4 fried eggs
2 cups watercress, or other green
1 1/3 cup kimchi
1/2 cup chopped scallions
4 tsp sesame seeds

Directions
Cut the steak into thin, bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. In a food processor combine the pear, onion, ginger and garlic. With clean hands, massage this mixture into the steak. Add the sesame oil, tamari and brown sugar to the steak, toss to combine, and marinate for 30 minutes out of the fridge. Heat a large skillet over very high heat. Add the steak, marinade removed, and cook tossing once or twice, until the steak is browned (about 3 minutes for medium-rare or 4 minutes for medium). Arrange in a bowl, using ingredients above. Makes 4 bowls.

Photo: Justin McChesney-Wachs

BBQ Ribs with Tart Cherry Sauce

Pork-loin ribs come from the leanest part of the pork, and tart cherry barbecue sauce gives a boost of powerful antioxidants shown to ease pain, bolster brain health and aid sleep.

Ingredients (for ribs)
2–3 pounds pork-loin ribs
1 T, each, salt, pepper, ground garlic, chili powder

Ingredients (for sauce):
2 T canola oil
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup tart cherry juice
2 T pure maple syrup
2 cups, fresh tart/sour cherries (pitted and minced)

Directions
Massage the ribs with the seasonings. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until ribs are tender, about 30 minutes. To make the sauce, in a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 10 minutes, until caramelized. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring to combine, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to smooth mixture, if desired. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove ribs from pot and place in a large baking dish. Pour 1 cup of the barbecue sauce over the ribs. Cover with foil and bake for 90 minutes, until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Serve with remaining sauce on side.