Get ready to be inspired by a healthy Mexican vegan chef who got his start as a schoolteacher with a lot to learn about cooking healthy food.
Meet Chef Eddie Garza, a plant-based chef, two-time cookbook author focusing on vegan Mexican food, host of “Global Bites with Eddie Garza” on OzTube and private chef to Spanish-speaking celebrities like Daisy Fuentes and Maria Conchita Alonso. He is the picture of health, energy, optimism and can-do spirit, but this is following a life-changing moment that inspired a journey that would take him from 310 pounds with declining health to his fit body of today, less 150 pounds.
I could do something differently. I profoundly changed my diet to more vegan Mexican food, and when I was 30, I ran for the first time.
Garza shared his story with me one day with wild candor, transparency and humility. In fact, his demeanor gets you rooting for him within minutes, and by the time the call was over, I was so proud of my new friend. But what makes Garza special is that he approaches everything, especially vegan Mexican food, with a glass-half-full attitude and gratitude for all who have gotten him to this moment.
That gratitude extends to a schoolteacher with whom Eddie Garza worked who called it like she saw it one day.
“I was a schoolteacher in Texas, and I started each day with a double Whataburger. After five years, it happened. This new teacher said, ‘you’re fat’ and for the first time I imagined I could do something differently. I profoundly changed my diet to more vegan Mexican food, and when I was 30, I ran for the first time.
“Running and practicing yoga, I didn’t realize there were so many parts of me inside of me. There was no looking back. This transformation in my life and in my spirit opened my heart to the world everyone deserves to be happier and free,” he says. “May all beings be happy and free getting to a new place spiritually.”
Garza grew up in the Mexican American border town of Brownsville, Texas, a region plagued by childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Like many of his childhood peers, Eddie struggled with serious weight problems from an early age.
Eddie Garza was born Mexican parents speaking English. When he started a career in Spanish TV, his focus was Spanish, and his crossover was to his main language English. Usually, it’s the reverse.
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“I had a loving relationship with my grandmother who cooked for us as my mom, a nurse, and dad, a mechanic worked. I just loved her I cooked and read cookbooks before I was reading as a kid,” he says.
“I learned so many tricks from my grandmother and in the first book, when I became plant-based, I went back to my roots with vegan Mexican food. I left teaching to be a chef started working on a recipe development project that started it all,” he says.
Garza says take becoming plant-based step by step. “Don’t change your diet overnight, start by incorporating the beans and vegetables that you like at first.
However, during the pandemic he faced hard times; with his second cookbook in the works, his mom and grandmother were both in hospice, which he describes as more than traumatic. Time to heal was needed.
Today, he is passionate about inspiring others. Eddie Garza’s book Salud Vegan Mexican Cookbook features 150 plant-powered recipes that represent the 150 pounds he lost on his vegan journey. In his second book, The 30-Day Vegan Meal Plan for Beginners, Garza simplifies plant-based versions of comfort classics from around the world.
Garza says take becoming plant-based step by step. “Don’t change your diet overnight, start by incorporating the beans and vegetables that you like at first. Also, remember that food burns calories, and you need to eat enough to lose and maintain your weight,” he says. “Too few calories means lack of success.”
He also says he’s not gone cold turkey on meat and cheese. “I love eating local foods. When in New York, I go to Chelsea Blossom for Eggs Benedict, and I never leave Houston without a BBQ sandwich,” says Eddie Garza.
“I’m 44 with more energy than when I was 21. I’m now weight training, I have more time with my husband and moved closer to the beach for the lifestyle,” he says.
Eddie has cooked vegan Mexican food for a host of plant-powered stars in the television, film and music industries, including television host and model Daisy Fuentes, singer-songwriters Richard Marx and Rob Thomas, Latin American television personalities Marco Antonio Regil, Ximena Córdoba and Catalina Robayo, actors Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Cybill Shepherd, Maria Conchita Alonso, Daniella Monet, Harley Quinn Smith, among others.
Eddie Garza is passionate about teaching healthy eating to kids like him. His work to reform food systems in marginalized communities has been featured worldwide from CNN, ¡HOLA! TV, The Washington Post, People, Telemundo, Univision and Travel + Leisure, and many more.
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When asked what’s next, he replied, “I have no idea.” Not that he has no idea, he has so many ideas it’s unclear which comes first coming out of the pandemic. He’s filming a new digital show for a massive outlet with a three-part launch of a series globally inspired show on plant-based vegan Mexican food cooking in Spanish. He does work in television in LA and with Telemundo, consults with major food service companies, helps new restaurants with menu design and serves as a health coach and international speaker.
“During the pandemic, I worked a lot and did my own production in my house, including lighting and makeup. I feel so versatile,” he says.
And it’s that versatility that will keep Eddie Garza relevant for a long time.
CRISPY CAULIFLOWER PO’ BOYS
Oven-crisped cauliflower steps in for seafood in this New Orleans original. Cauliflower is first bathed in omega-3 rich flax “eggs,” then coated in a blend of flour, cornmeal and creole seasonings. Our secret ingredient here is dulse seaweed, which adds a delicate seafood taste to our cauliflower florets. We take our po’ boys up a notch with our plant-based rémoulade sauce, made with Aquafaba Mayo, relish, capers, and Louisiana hot sauce. These Crispy Cauliflower Po’ Boys are a real crowd pleaser! Serves 4. Prep time is 20 minutes.
1 cup Aquafaba Mayo
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp dill pickle relish
2 tsp capers, minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Louisiana hot sauce
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (or steak sauce)
Juice of 1 small lime
3 tbsp flax meal, plus ½ cup water
1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets (about 6 cups)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dulse seaweed flakes
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt, divided
½ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
4 8-inch French loaves, split horizontally
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
8 to 12 slices Roma tomatoes
16 dill pickle slices
Louisiana hot sauce
Natalia Evstigneeva / Shutterstock
Method | RÉMOULADE SAUCE
In a medium bowl, whisk together Aquafaba Mayo, garlic, relish, capers, paprika, mustard, hot sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce (or steak sauce) and lime juice. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Method | CRISPY CAULIFLOWER
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flax meal and water. Add cauliflower florets and coat well.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, corn meal, baking powder, garlic powder, dulse flakes, paprika, cayenne pepper, 1 tsp salt and black pepper. Add olive oil and combine. Add cauliflower florets and toss together. Place cauliflower florets evenly on baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until crispy. Season with the remainder of the salt.
Method | PO’ BOYS
Lather cut sides of bread with Rémoulade Sauce. Top bottom bun with shredded lettuce and tomato slices. Add Crispy Cauliflower and top with dill pickle slices. Drizzle with Louisiana hot sauce. Place the last 4 pieces of bread atop hot sauce to bring sandwiches together.
PRO TIP: This recipe also works well in an air fryer. At 400 degrees Fahrenheit, air fry the florets in small batches for 20 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through. Season the air-fried florets with salt.
JACKFRUIT BARBEQUE SLIDERS
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup dark molasses
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce
1 tbsp yellow mustard, or more as needed
1 tbsp chipotle powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
½ tsp black pepper, or more as needed
¼ tsp salt, or more as needed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 (14-ounce) can young jackfruit, drained, patted dry or pressed to remove excess fluid, and shredded
8 slider buns, split and toasted
¼ cup vegan mayo
8 dill pickle slices
Mikhailov Studio / Shutterstock
Method | SAUCE
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté. for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, chipotle, liquid smoke, black pepper and salt and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.
Method | SANDWICHES
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the jackfruit and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. Stir in the barbecue sauce and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by about half.
Spread the cut side of each bun with some mayo. To the bottom half of each bun, add the barbecue jackfruit and top with dill pickle slices. Place the remaining bun halves on top to close the sandwiches.
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