Edible On Wheels

Edible On Wheels

By Robin Barr Sussman | August 28, 2015
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Photos Courtesy Of Ripe Cuisine, Stephanie Hoban is proud of her truck.

The Time Is Ripe!

Vegan food truck brings fresh, local and seasonal fare to the Houston food scene

Native Houstonian Stephanie Hoban was not your ordinary fast-food-consuming teen. Now a registered dietician, chef and business owner, Hoban became vegetarian while in high school and soon after took the leap to a vegan diet.

After starting a successful vegan food blog in her mid-20s, Hoban began conducting pop-up cafés at farmers markets. Now she has a new toy: a shiny food truck emblazoned with a huge, can’t-miss-it, red tomato logo. Ripe Cuisine is the only vegan food truck in town.  “I studied nutrition in college and it became a lifelong challenge for me to cook a vegan diet that was innovative.”  The food at Ripe Cuisine is about eating with a purpose for a healthy mind, body and planet.

“I opened the Ripe food truck in 2014 because I wanted to fill a void in Houston by cooking and serving a vegan menu.” She feels this diet supports optimal health and doesn’t cause the negative impact on the planet as industrial livestock production.   For the uninitiated, a vegan diet is strictly plant based: No animal meats, fish, dairy, insects or animal by-products like gelatin are consumed.  “We do face pushback from some people because we’re not serving meat. But we see that as an opportunity to educate them and expose them to something new that’s also healthful,” says Hoban. On the other hand, vegan groupies line up at the truck daily and can’t get enough of the Spicy Thai Peanut Butter sandwich with housemade marmalade, the kale salad with candied sunflower seeds, or linguine with silky broccoli-avocado pesto or earthy three mushroom ravioli sans cheese.

One of the signature plates sold from Hoban’s truck is her glutenfree Avocado Taco with snappy chipotle cashew crema. Not just any taco, the whole avocado is cornmeal crusted for texture and deep fried for richer flavor. Also very popular is her Caprese Melt with local sourdough, bright basil pesto, creamy cashew “mozzarella” and peppery arugula, or enchiladas stuffed with kale, lentils and sweet potatoes.  “Not only is it more time consuming to prepare everything like sugar-free ketchup, nut-based sauces and sweet potato fries from scratch, there are a lot of moving parts involved in running a food truck,” says Hoban.

Photo 1: Photos Courtesy Of Ripe Cuisine, Ripe's popular enchiladas
Photo 2: Photos Courtesy Of Ripe Cuisine, delectable vegan Asian noodles. Find Ripe Cuisine's recipe for vegan chocolate
The truck is outfitted with the works: a large reach-in refrigerator, a refrigerated sandwich prep table, a fryer, a six-burner range, two ovens, a flat top griddle and broiler and a freezer. There is a three-compartment sink for dishes and a handwashing sink.  “Part of the beauty of vegan food is there are less ingredients that are highly susceptible to food-borne illness like can happen with meats, seafood, dairy and eggs,” says Hoban, a certified food manager who diligently follows the City of Houston safety requirements.
 
The ambitious chef uses five different types of flours and she buys organic and local for most everything including bread from Kraftsmen Bakery. Lavender for her signature lavender lemonade is purchased in bulk from Lavande Farm at the Urban Harvest farmers market. Also, look for fruit-infused waters using Texas spring water—apple pear water is on tap for fall.  Her creative use of coconut oil, almond milk, soy yogurt and apple sauce results in sinful-tasting desserts. Think crispy chocolate cherry-pecan cookies or moist banana-nut cupcakes with thick peanut butter frosting and coconut “bacon.”
 
Hoban also stays busy with private cooking lessons, dietary consulting and catering, including food truck events. So, what’s next?  “I would like to write a cookbook and hopefully morph into a brick and mortar,” she says.
 
To follow the Ripe food truck, visit the frequently updated calendar on her blog, RipeCuisine.com. Hoban’s motto: Stay ripe!
 
Check RipeCuisine.com for more information and a monthly overview of where to find Ripe Food Truck. Ripe is at the market on Saturday: 8am-12pm Urban Harvest farmers market, 3000 Richmond Ave., Houston
Article from Edible Houston at http://ediblehouston.ediblecommunities.com/eat/edible-wheels
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