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Flex Your Diet, Fix Your Health

OKC dining options for flexitarians



 



Some extremely frustrating words came from the doctor’s mouth: “You’re going to have to do something about the high blood pressure. It’s not something you can ignore.” Those words usually lead to a couple realizations, two of which may, depending on your lifestyle, sound fairly awful: major changes in diet and actual physical movement beyond reaching for a remote or clicking a mouse. As to the latter, there are more options than any person can count, plus an army of devices, trainers and even clothing lines to facilitate change. The food, though …
 


The Mayo Clinic recommends the DASH diet for high blood pressure, and reading through it can be a bit depressing, especially if – like many Oklahomans – you love red meat. No, it doesn’t say meat has to go, but it does advise limiting your diet to six ounces per day. Six ounces is one small hamburger patty. Per day. Into the foreseeable future.

The second restriction was nearly as bad: reduce sodium intake, by a lot. Checking food labels for sodium was not a common practice for me, but doing so led to one inescapable conclusion: no more cold cuts. Also, most processed foods, including canned foods, are out.

The third restriction: reduce alcohol consumption. That’s not happening.

Taking the advice seriously, though, does require a reformation in eating habits, and the best, most flavorful way to go seemed to be “flexitarian.” Most people are not going to go full vegetarian, and even fewer are going full vegan, but it is possible to incorporate more non-animal-based products into a healthy diet that is also satisfying and delicious.

One local expert on this – although she might eschew the honorific – is Elena Farrar, who’s a partner in Elemental Coffee. The Midtown destination is beloved by vegetarians and vegans, but also serves meat, cheese and other products horrifying to vegans. Farrar is not herself a vegan, but she’s closer to it than omnivorousness. In other words, she has a healthy balance of the right kinds of food in her life, and she allows herself some indulgences.

“It’s good to eliminate meat slowly,” she says, on being asked about moving toward a flexitarian diet. “Throw in substitutes like quinoa. It’s high in protein and has great flavor, and like tofu, it picks up the flavors around it.”

Here’s the truth: Most meat substitutes are not as good as meat. That’s basically always going to be the case – with some rare exceptions mentioned later – but certain meat substitutes do work well as part of more complex dishes. Farrar uses Gimme Lean breakfast sausage in Elemental’s grab-and-go breakfast wraps. While its flavor is inferior to pork sausage if eaten as a patty, when it’s combined with eggs, hot sauce, and potatoes, it tastes just enough like sausage to make it a solid substitute.

 



“I tell people that if you’re trying to reduce salt, you can’t eat anything that comes from a box or bag.”

Able Blakely
 


 

One of the trouble areas in switching remains the tendency for vegan or vegetarian (especially vegan) cooks to try to replicate favorite dishes of meat eaters. Mostly, it does not work … but it is worth noting that Henry Boudreaux at Aurora, Patrick Clark at Red Cup and Farrar are some of the best in town at tricking your taste buds.

“Trying to replicate dishes leads to less healthy vegetarian or vegan dishes much of the time,” Farrar says. “Vegan cheese is made with nuts, so it’s high in fat.”

That’s especially true for cashews, which are even higher in the bad fats than usual for nuts. (If you want to split hairs, cashews are technically seeds.)

Instead of trying to recreate a hamburger – veggie burgers are never as good, emphasis on never (Note: Greg Horton’s editor vehemently disagrees) – Farrar recommends building dishes around vegetables. One of her favorite options is to roast a variety of root vegetables and toss them with quinoa or faro. Salted lightly, the dish isn’t trying to pass for meat, but it’s satisfying and loaded with protein.

Without salt, though, seasoning becomes an issue. Farrar said she uses some; she just doesn’t over-salt. She also knows her way around a spice rack, as does Able Blakely, the owner of Savory Spice.

“I tell people that if you’re trying to reduce salt, you can’t eat anything that comes from a box or bag,” Blakely says. “We have at least 50 different seasoning packets that are salt-free, that will help you amp up flavor without adding sodium.”

Farrar recommended Whole Foods and Natural Grocers if you like to cook at home. Many of us don’t have time, though, and eating out can be problematic because many restaurants don’t intentionally do flexitarian well. However, converting to this diet is not as difficult as it seems, and that’s largely because the vegetarian and vegan communities have had a definite impact on Oklahoma City’s culinary culture; a few places do flexitarian very well:

 

Especially the vegan meatballs, but plenty of vegetarian options, too.

 

Excellent vegetarian options.

 

More choices than anywhere else.

 

All vegan, and Chef Clark is one of the best in the state with plant-based cooking.

 

The veggie plate is popular, but the lentil curry is one of the best things in Oklahoma City.

 

Too many options to list, and all are delicious.

 

A favorite for years in the metro, and the vegan pho will make a believer of you.

 

You need dessert, and vegan donuts will also make a believer of you.

 

The Health Nut wrap is vegetarian, and it’s delicious. They have many options beyond that, as well.

 

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Calendar

March 2019

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Why celebrate St. Patrick's Day for one day, when you can celebrate it for four? #405Brewing is excited to release THREE new beers leading up to St. Patrick’s Day! All three brews are...

Cost: Free

Where:
(405) Brewing Taproom
1716 Topeka St.
Norman, OK  73069
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Telephone: 405.760.5518
Website »

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Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

WEEK-LONG CAMPS: MAR 11 - 15 & MAR  18 - 22 2019 Join us this Spring Break as we present two exciting weeks of fun and creativity. Kids will love joining in with our performing...

Cost: $160

Where:
Oklahoma Children's Theatre
2501 N Blackwelder
Oklahoma Children's Theatre
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: http://www.oklahomachildrenstheatre.org
Telephone: 405.606.7003
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

From March 18-22, we are having a BLAST and celebrating the ultimate Spring Break! Buy an Ultimate Fun Wristband for anyone aged 8 and under and they can enjoy our additional attractions, the...

Cost: $28.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park
3300 Market Place Dr
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Sponsor: Andy Alligator's Fun Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275
Contact Name: Andy Alligator's MLK weekend fun!
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

From March 18-22, we are having a BLAST and celebrating the ultimate Spring Break! Buy an Ultimate Fun Wristband for anyone aged 8 and under and they can enjoy our additional attractions, the...

Cost: $28.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park
3300 Market Place Dr
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Sponsor: Andy Alligator's Fun Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275
Contact Name: Andy Alligator's MLK weekend fun!
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

From March 18-22, we are having a BLAST and celebrating the ultimate Spring Break! Buy an Ultimate Fun Wristband for anyone aged 8 and under and they can enjoy our additional attractions, the...

Cost: $28.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park
3300 Market Place Dr
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Sponsor: Andy Alligator's Fun Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275
Contact Name: Andy Alligator's MLK weekend fun!
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

From March 18-22, we are having a BLAST and celebrating the ultimate Spring Break! Buy an Ultimate Fun Wristband for anyone aged 8 and under and they can enjoy our additional attractions, the...

Cost: $28.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park
3300 Market Place Dr
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Sponsor: Andy Alligator's Fun Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275
Contact Name: Andy Alligator's MLK weekend fun!
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

From March 18-22, we are having a BLAST and celebrating the ultimate Spring Break! Buy an Ultimate Fun Wristband for anyone aged 8 and under and they can enjoy our additional attractions, the...

Cost: $28.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park
3300 Market Place Dr
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Sponsor: Andy Alligator's Fun Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275
Contact Name: Andy Alligator's MLK weekend fun!
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Rightly So is extremely excited to be returning to Red Brick Bar - no cover! The Rightly So is an acoustic americana duo from Buffalo, NY. Combining the sounds of classic folk and rock with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Red Brick Bar
311 E Main St
Norman, OK  73069
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Welcome to the happy-shining, phoenix-rising, reunited world of classic Smash Mouth in 2018. For the first time in nearly a decade, all five members of what is widely considered the...

Cost: $50, $75, $100

Where:
Osage Casino's Skyline Event Center
Tulsa, OK

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Brace yourself; The End Is Coming. Oklahoma popstress Layers of Pink is taking the show across the United States in light of her debut release, "The End Is Coming" EP. Come see (and hear)...

Cost: $5

Where:
Blue Note Lounge
2408 N Robinson Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Layers of Pink
Telephone: 405.837.7455
Contact Name: Dustin Fox
Website »

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