Food trailer earns special health care system designation


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on April 12, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 12 at 5:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Last year, the mayor's Healthy Fitness Counsel sponsored an Austin Chef's Showdown. Fifteen restaurants and one food trailer participated. The food trailer's performance caught of the eye of one local health care system.

"With refried there's a lot of manual labor involved," said R.J. Oliver a.k.a Buffalo Bob.

But it's been a labor of love for Bob and his Buffalo Bob Chalupa Wagon on South 1st and Live Oak.  
"I like chalupas," he said. "I've always thought they were the healthy side of Mexican food. Then I realized no, they're really not that healthy."  

So when he opened his food trailer two years ago, Buffalo Bob decided to re-engineer many traditional Tex-Mex recipes. He replaced lard with olive oil, bison replaced beef, saturated fats and sodium were lowered while healthy fats and antioxidants were increased.

All that, he says, without sacrificing flavor.

"I'm really taking all the artificial crap out of the food and providing people with what I call just clean, real food," Bob said.

By winning last year's Tex-Mex division of the Austin's Chef Showdown, Buffalo Bob's Chalupa Wagon got the attention of St. David's and it's Healthy Dining Program.

"Mexican food doesn't typically strike us as healthy and neither does food from a trailer," said Valerie Shurley, a critical nutrition manager and registered dietitian with St. David's Georgetown.  

Shurley says one of the hardest challenges restaurants face is meeting low sodium restrictions. Another reason why Buffalo Bob's Chalupa Wagon is a pleasant surprise, she said.

"I would say it shows that you really can serve fast food or sort of your non traditional restaurant food and still be healthy," said Shurley.

"For me that's a real feather in the cap," said Bob. "It means somebody recognizes that what I'm doing is healthy and beneficial to people."

Of course the best compliments come from Buffalo Bob's regular customers like Mike Poulson.

"It tastes like a regular chalupa," said Poulson. "Healthy stuff usually doesn't taste this good."

Just like all the restaurants on the Healthy Dining list, not every item on Buffalo Bob's Chalupa Wagon menu gets St. David's Healthy Dining recommendation. However, some of his selections do. 

Click here for the complete list of food establishments that made St. David's list.



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