Edible On Wheels
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.