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Food Matters: Cooking classes at; New farmers market coming to East Austin; PaleoFX Ancestral Momentum Theory to Practice Symposium

Staff Writer
Austin 360
The Sustainable Food Center is bringing a farmers market to East Austin on Tuesday afternoons starting March 20.

Local blogger teaches online classes

Google + is one of the new social media tools that we're all still trying to figure out how best to incorporate into our online lives.

One company,, is taking advantage of the video chat feature to coordinate cooking classes where bloggers and chefs teach a dish and participants can cook along in their own kitchen and ask questions as they go. One of the bloggers is Austinite Mary Helen McNally of Mary Makes Dinner ( who last month taught a class featuring this Creamy Chipotle Sweet Potato and Quinoa Casserole. She has several classes ($12-$20) this month on making pot stickers, vegan ice cream and Japanese rice balls and rolls. You can find her classes and more at

Creamy Chipotle Sweet Potato and Quinoa Casserole

For the quinoa layer:

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups quinoa

1 jalapeño, minced

1 can black beans, rinsed

2 medium tomatoes, diced and seeded

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

For the sweet potato layer:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 lb. sweet potato, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium sauce pot, bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. of salt to a rapid boil. Stir in quinoa, bring back to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, or until quinoa is al dente and has absorbed the water. In a large bowl, mix quinoa with jalapeño, black beans, diced tomato and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pack the mixture down firmly into the casserole dish, then top with one cup of shredded mozzarella.

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, cream and chipotle powder. You can add a little more or a little less chipotle based on your taste and spice tolerance. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the sauce, sweet potato slices, and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Spread the coated sweet potatoes over the layer of quinoa in your casserole dish, one slice at a time. Try to overlap each slice just a little to form a tight seal out of the sweet potatoes. When they have all been laid down, pour any remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cup of mozzarella.

Bake the casserole in the oven for 60 minutes. The casserole will be done when the sweet potatoes have become fork tender, and the top has melted and browned. Let the casserole sit for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven, then serve. Serves 8 to 10.

- Mary Helen McNally of Mary Makes Dinner

New farmers market coming to East Austin

The Sustainable Food Center already operates three farmers markets in the Austin area: Two on Saturdays (Republic Square Park and Burger Center) and a third on Wednesday afternoons at the Triangle. But to provide Austinites with even more access to locally grown food, the nonprofit is launching a new, year-round farmers market that will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays at the YMCA at 5315 Ed Bluestein, at the intersection of 51st and U.S. 183.

The market will be known as SFC Farmers' Market East, and the grand opening is set for March 20. Susan Leibrock, community relations director for SFC, says that this will be the only market that will be offering a Double Dollar Incentive Program. For every $10 spent on fruits and vegetables with a SNAP/Lone Star Card or WIC Lone Star Card, customers will receive another $10 to spend on fruits and vegetables at the market.

In other SFC news, ahead of the time change Sunday, the Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Market at The Triangle springs forward an hour today, starting at 4 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m.

Symposium delves into ancestral lifestyle

While South by Southwest festival-goers will be exploring the future of technology, film and music, a group of nutritionists, authors and fitness experts will be gathering at the University of Texas from March 14 to 17 to talk about the future of so-called ancestral health.

This approach to wellbeing revolves around eating and exercising like ancestors did before modern humans figured out how to produce things like agriculture and elliptical machines.

The PaleoFX Ancestral Momentum Theory to Practice Symposium, which will take place at the Stark Center and the Red McCombs Touchdown Club, will explore the science behind all things Paleo, the most noted of which is the diet that eschews grains, dairy, legumes and refined oils.

"This is the first time anywhere in North America that a large volunteer group has brought together a program that presents the practical applications of ancestral lifestyle theory," says Keith Norris, of the Austin-based personal fitness company Efficient Exercise.

During the three-day event, you can hear speakers talk about topics including barefoot running, food policy and exercise theory.

There will also be nutrition classes, workshops, cooking demonstrations and workout sessions.

Registration costs $299, but Statesman readers can get a $100 discount by using the code AASPFX during checkout.

You can also get a single day pass for $99 with the discount code AA1PFX.

For more information or to register, go to

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the name of Keith Norris of Efficient Exercise.