Category Archives: Food & Travel

5 Desserts to Sweeten Your Finals Week

With Finals coming up, we all need a treat to sweeten up our days. Looking for a break from countless studying and essay rewrites ? Here’s some options for all my fellow sweet tooths out there! 

  1. Monday Mug Cakes: 
Design by Bettina Mateo

Mug cakes are a great way to start the week and the Cookist has some amazing recipes to choose from. Whether you’re craving a vegan, paleo, or vanilla cake, there are many variations of this easy and delicious dish to try out and enjoy.. Most of the ingredients can be picked up at your local Dobie Target!

Courtesy of the Cookist

If you’re in a rush and have no time to make all these recipes then we have a solution for you: Betty Crocker. The company has a bunch of different mug cakes that are ready within minutes. Just add milk or water, and pop it in the microwave. Did I mention each box is less than $3?

Courtesy of amazon.com

If you really want to treat yourself checkout Polkadots Cupcake Factory. Their store is only a quick drive or bus ride away from campus. Although they may be a little pricey with $3.65 per cupcake, their 98 Google ratings say they’re more than worth it. Popular favorite flavors include Red Velvet, Confetti, and Chocolate. 

Courtesy of Austin Home Search

2. Tuesday Tiramisu:

This 10 minute recipe by Lauren Allen is a fantastic choice for students. This is especially geared towards those students who live in the dorms since this is a no-bake dish. While some of the ingredients might be a little pricey, HEB has all the ingredients you need for much less than other retailers.

Courtesy of Tastes Better From Scratch

Want a study space and a yummy treat all in one? Why not buy a Tiramisu slice ($3.49) at Whole Foods on Lamar? There are plenty of seats outside and inside with ambient music. If you can’t find a place to sit, there is a Starbucks right across the street as well.

Courtesy of Whole Foods

It’s Dinner time and you still haven’t eaten cause you’ve been super busy from all that studying. (or procrastinating) Whichever it is, why not check out UTea Pho and grab a tiramisu slice for dessert after your meal? Perhaps use this as an opportunity to have a “study and dine date” with that zoom cutie from class. 

\

Courtesy of the menyuapp.com

3. Wednesday Waffles:

If you’re lucky enough to have a waffle maker and want a fun breakfast dessert then why not make some waffles? You probably haven’t used it that much since class has been taking so much of your time. So, why not give it and yourself some love by making some yummy yummy waffles. (side note: You don’t even have to eat them just for breakfast!!)

Courtesy of Shugary Sweets

While not as delicious as the other options, this one is the fastest and cheapest ! Pop it into the microwave or toaster oven and voila dessert/breakfast is served. Add some whipped cream, fruits, or some syrup to make it taste even better. Personally, I think some vanilla ice cream would go amazing with this delicious meal !

If you have the time and want to really treat yourself, Mary’s cafe is said to have some of the best waffles in Austin! This is also a great option for those of us without cars since it is just a quick 15 minute bus ride away from campus. Each waffle is about $6.75 🙂

Courtesy of Yelp

4. Thursday Tarts :

After eating all those yummy desserts this week, you might be looking for something just a little healthier today. Why not make yourself a fruit tart? Delish has a yummy recipe that is easy and delicious.

Courtesy of Delish

If you’re studying at the Austin Public Library and are looking for a little reward for all those hours of studying. Trader Joe’s is just a short walk away and their Raspberry tarte is absolutely delicious. (If they don’t have any tartes, they have a plethora of other amazing desserts for you to try.)

Courtesy of the kitchn

Mozart’s Coffee is a favorite for just about anyone. Did you know that they also carry fruit tartes? Well, they do! A view, a study space, delicious coffee and a great fruit or lemon tart, what more could you ask for? 

Courtesy of Trip Advisor

5.Friday Fruit Parfaits:

It is finally Friday and you have made it through the week! Treat yourself this morning with a homemade fruit parfait. A quick, easy, and customizable desert that can appeal to anyone. You can add just about anything to a cup of yogurt ! My personal favorite toppings are almonds, granola, raspberries, strawberries, and a little bit of chocolate. 

Courtesy of the Food Network

 I get it. You are tired and don’t want to do anything today. Well, H-E-B has got you covered with their cheap and delicious Del Monte yogurt parfaits. 

If all these options don’t seem to interest you then head out and have some plain ol’ ice cream. Choose your own toppings and flavors. Tropical Dreams is an ice cream store located right behind Dobie and has a bunch of unique ice cream flavors. Some interesting flavors include Ginger, Macadamia Coconut, and Mango Cream.

Courtesy of Tropical Dreams

It is finally the weekend and you’re done with finals! It is time to crash and rewind as you prepare for the next week. As you remember all the amazing and delicious desserts you ate this week, you think to yourself why not try 5 different healthy smoothies next week to detox the body and mind from all the semester stress. 

Good luck on your finals  everyone and remember to treat yourself through these stressful times. 🙂 

Top H-E-B Picks from a Former H-E-B Checker

For some, H-E-B isn’t just a grocery store, it’s a way of life. Whether you’re new to Texas or not, H-E-B is a staple for any central Texas resident; including our fellow longhorns. H-E-B offers locally sourced products and a unique grocery experience. H-E-B is constantly creating new, unique products for its customers, and as a former H-E-B checker, I’ve seen a lot of what H-E-B has to offer. From unique ice cream creations to delicious coffee, here are some of my tried and true H-E-B favorites.


H‑E‑B Select Ingredients Mocha Lovers Trail Mix

H-E-B has multiple trail mixes, but for coffee and/or chocolate lovers like myself, the Mocha Lovers Trail Mix is the best trail mix to satisfy your sweet tooth and caffeine cravings. The trail mix includes dark chocolate covered cranberries, white chocolate covered coffee beans, dark chocolate covered coffee beans, roasted almonds and roasted cashews.

Where you can find: H-E-B pantry area in the snack, chips or candy aisle.

H‑E‑B Sensational Belgian Chocolate Chip Cookie

Photo by Ahmed Almakhzanji on Unsplash

The H-E-B Belgain Chocolate Chip Cookies might just be one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. Each cookie comes in a pack of two and is an inch thick full of chocolate and walnut goodness!

Where you can find: Bakery Section

H‑E‑B Gourmet Brownie Party Tray

The H-E-B Gourmet Brownie Party Tray quite literally changed my life. These rich chocolate brownies come in an assortment of various frosting and nut toppings.

Where you can find: Bakery Section

Cafe Ole by HEB Coffee

H-E-B has an array of coffee flavors for folks with a variety of tastes. For those who like to enjoy a sweet or flavored coffee, H-E-B’s Cafe Ole offers unique flavors. Some of my favorites are the Texas Pecan Medium Roast, Taste of San Antonio Medium Roast and Taste of Austin Medium Roast. For those who prefer a bold or rich coffee, Cafe Ole offers Donut Shop Medium Roast, French Roast Dark Roast and Colombian Bucaramanga Supremo Medium Roast.

Where you can find: Coffee aisle

H-E-B Sea Salt Tortilla Chips

Photo by Tim Toomey on Unsplash

Something about the H-E-B Tortilla Chips is so addicting I could eat half the bag in one sitting. They go great with guacamole or salsa or even on their own. The chips are light, slightly salty and oh so delicious!

Where you can find them: Bakery or Produce sections

H-E-B Ice Cream

Photo by American Heritage Chocolate on Unsplash

H-E-B has killed it when it comes to ice cream. H-E-B offers dozens of ice cream flavor and topping combinations. It’s hard to choose just one! Some of my tried and true favorites are Swoon by H-E-B Cookie Lovers, Creamy Creations Cookies Over Texas, Creamy Creations Dulce De Leche and Creamy Creations Texas Starry Night.

Where you can find them: Ice cream or Frozen Foods section

H-E-B carries so many unique products that any time I go, I’m bound to try something new. If you’re looking for a taste of Texas, just stop at your local H-E-B because it’s true, here everything is better.

Starbucks Survival Guide: Dietary Restrictions

Photo by 𝙆 on Unsplash

Since its founding in 1971 as “Pike Place Market” in Seattle, Washington, Starbucks has become a worldwide coffee sensation. After the company went public in 1992 it took off and is now the largest coffeehouse chain in the world. So naturally, it has to have a lot of options. From a certified Starbucks barista to you, here’s how to get exactly what you want.

The Milk Situation

Starbucks offers an astounding 9 kinds of milk— 4 of which are nondairy— to their customers.

The nondairy milks are: almond, soy, coconut, and oatmilk.

The dairy milks are: nonfat, 2%, whole, half and half, and heavy cream.

The combinations with the milks alone are endless, but there are a few more things to keep in mind.

Vegetarian / Vegan

Looking at the Starbucks menu from a customer perspective can be overwhelming— especially when no one seems to know what is and isn’t vegan-friendly. In the one year I’ve worked at Starbucks, I’ve seen so much misinformation get spread around, so here are two important things to keep in mind if you don’t want to consume milk.

1. Caramel drizzle has dairy.

2. Mocha doesn’t.

In fact, all nonseasonal Starbucks syrups are vegan except for White Chocolate Mocha and Dark Caramel Sauce.

If you’re looking to avoid dairy, just ask for any drink (besides a White Mocha or Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino) and swap out the dairy milk for one of the nondairies. Make sure to say no to whip cream because we use heavy cream to make it, caramel drizzle because of the dairy component, and also say no to cinnamon dolce topping because it’s made with butter.

If you don’t want to consume honey, it’s important to know that our Chai concentrate is made with it. So avoid Chai Tea Lattes and instead go for a brewed Chai tea with some nondairy milk.

People Who Don’t Want Caffeine

As a barista, I get this question more than you would think working at a coffee shop: What’s caffeine-free? Starbucks surprisingly has a lot of options, and one of the best ones is decaf.

Open till close Starbucks serves decaf espresso for that yummy coffee flavor without the leg-shaking side effects. We can add it to any drink you want so the options are, once again, endless.

If you don’t want the flavor either, but still want something creamy, you can order whatever syrup you want with steamed milk, hot chocolate, or one of our herbal teas, Mint Majesty and Peach Tranquility.

Need something iced instead? Our Passion Tango tea is caffeine-free. Or if blended is your preference, just ask for the creme version of whatever Frappucino you would like (besides chai, since it’s pre-caffeinated.)

And no, our refreshers are not caffeine-free. So if your eight-year-old orders a Pink Drink expect them to be hyper later on.

Keto-Friendly

Personally, I think if you’re getting a keto drink from Starbucks the best thing to do is order water. But, if you need to know some options, I got you covered.

Keto diets generally mean less than 50 carbs a day. So any type of black coffee, hot or iced espresso, or brewed tea will do just fine as it will bring you to a grand total of zero carbs.

When figuring out what milk to add in, a lot of people seem to think heavy cream is the top contender. However, Starbucks heavy cream contains 16 grams of carbohydrates per cup, which is actually more than quite a few milks.

The lowest carb milks come from the nondairy selection. Almond milk has 5 grams per cup, and coconut has 8. If you’re looking for a dairy selection, half % half has 8 grams per cup, nonfat has 12, and  2% has 14. So it’s better to ditch the heavy cream altogether and go with a lower carb milk to keep it in that low-carb diet.

If you’re looking to add some sweetness to the drink, our two sugar-free syrup pumps (sugar-free Vanilla and sugar-free Cinnamon Dolce) both have 1 gram of carbs per 2 tablespoons, which is about 3 to 4 pumps.

So to recommend the lowest-carb drink, a sugar-free syrup with 4 pumps and almond milk customized to coffee, espresso, hot tea, or iced tea is your best bet.

Iced tea lemonades are also a solid option if you’d like something without milk, as the lemonade ranges from 7 to 15 grams of carbs per drink depending on the size.

Photo by Asael Peña on Unsplash

Whether it’s getting off the caffeine-craze, or going on a diet, Starbucks will find a way to meet your needs. If you’re still unsure, ask a barista because we’re there to help, but this guide is a great way to answer some basics to get you through the endless menu and dietary options. Our mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit, so hopefully, even with the restrictions, we can do that for you one cup at a time.

The Best Kids Meals in West Campus

Yes, I am a grown adult. Yes, I order from the kids menu. We exist. Let me explain.

Do you ever go out with your friends to eat but you’re not hungry hungry? Or, you want to enjoy outside food but don’t have the financial means to splurge? It’s time for you to put your pride aside and start ordering from the kids menu! Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, I visited some of the most popular food joints in wampus in search of the best kids meals — here’s what I found.

1. In-N-Out and Halal Bros, can’t hang

First, I stopped by two wampus favorites on Guad, Halal Bros and In-N-Out. To my surprise, neither establishment had kids meals. However, Halal Bros does offer cheap side options (pictured) that can substitute a kids meal and In-N-Out’s burger costs less than the other meals reviewed. In-N-Out also has animal-style fries (fries topped with american cheese, caramelized onions and their signature fry sauce) which could serve as a meal! These are financially-good alternatives to ordering from the regular menu even if they don’t come with the quirkiness from ordering off the kid’s.

2. Pluckers, the hit or miss, 6/10

My friend and I ordered from the kids menu online at the Pluckers on Rio. I ordered the Kids Naked Boneless Wings with tater tots ($6.25) and they ordered the Kids Mac and Cheese with waffle fries ($6.00). Although the portions were large, the buffalo-dressed chicken strips were not that appetizing. My friend, however, did enjoy the mac and cheese / waffle fries combo as a vegetarian option. The tater tots were decent, but not out of this world. This is a good option when visiting the Wampus classic and you don’t want to overspend on a regular- sized meal. 

3. Kerbey Lane, The Surprise Contender, 8/10

Photographed by Josh Romero

I’ve eaten at the Austin-classic several times, however, I had never considered ordering off of the kids menu until writing this article. The kids meal consists of breakfast and lunch options, ranging from chicken tenders to pancakes. I ordered the chicken quesadillas and was pleasantly surprised. The quality of the chicken was good and all the kids’ meals came with fries or fruit. There were ample fries, and for a good price ($6.94 including tip) you get a decent sized meal without having to spend a lot.

4. Whataburger, the small but mighty, 8.5/10

Photographed by Josh Romero

I discovered the worthiness of the Whataburger kids meal when I worked for the state-favorite back in 2017. Coming in at $5.19, the chicken tender kids meal comes with two tenders, small fries, a cookie, and a small drink. This is perfect for a post-6th street munchies, or a reward for finishing midterms. 

5. Cava, king of the kids meal, 10/10

Photographed by Josh Romero

When at Cava, If you aren’t ordering from the kids meal, you’re doing it wrong. The Cava kids meal comes with a small pita, choice of hummus, choice of three toppings, pita chips or carrots, rice, and a small drink. When I discovered this hack, I was blown away. You get so much for a decent price ($6.98) and are still able to make selections as if you were ordering from the regular menu. I highly recommend switching to kids meals when visiting this Wampus favorite!

Tiktok-Famous Starbucks Drinks You Need To Try

Mango Dragonfruit Slush – 7.5/10

“Mango dragonfruit with no water, blended with strawberry puree and topped with whipped cream”

I am completely obsessed with the color of this drink. It made me even more excited to give it a try. To be upfront, I was unsure about this drink at first sip. It had an interesting tanginess, most likely from the dragonfruit, that I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed. However, with every new sip that I took, it became better and better. The whipped cream on top added a perfect contrast with the tang of the drink itself. The one downside that I noticed was how quickly this drink melted. So, if you order this on a hot day, make sure and drink it up fast! Although this definitely isn’t a daily drink because of its bold and sweet flavors, it was a nice treat. 

Cookie Butter Latte – 8.5/10

“Iced chai latte with brown sugar syrup and oat milk”

This combination was created by @nina.estrada. She claims that it “tastes just like Trader Joe’s cookie butter.” I personally grew up on Trader Joe’s cookie butter, so I was excited for this drink. From the very first sip, I was astonished at how similar the two actually tasted. This drink is essentially cookie butter in liquid form. If you have never tried cookie butter, it gives off gingerbread vibes. This drink is sweet but also filled with spices.— and also dairy free, which is always a plus. This drink is also Lizzo-approved… which should speak for itself!

The Moon Drink – 9/10

“Iced matcha latte with two pumps of chai”

This combination was created by @swanmuse. She attests that it “tastes like drinking the moon herself.” Although I’m not exactly sure what the moon is supposed to taste like, this description is somehow exactly spot on. I am a huge fan of matcha and of chai separately, but I’ve never thought of putting the two together. This combination gives the freshness of matcha and the spice of chai. I also added the vanilla sweet cream foam on top, since it’s the secret sauce to everything. It perfectly balances out the two flavors with a little bit of sweetness. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of matcha, I believe you would still enjoy this drink. And of course, if you like both, this is the perfect drink for you!

Ombre lemonade – 9/10

“Lemonade with raspberry and strawberry acai poured on top” 

Personally, I think this was the most aesthetic drink of the five that I tried. Not only was it beautiful and seemingly glowing, it was delicious! It tasted exactly like sweet strawberry lemonade with a hint of tang from the raspberry. This drink is absolutely perfect for hot weather. Summer is just around the corner, and I can guarantee that you’ll catch me with one of these in hand. This is also a fairly simple drink to order, which is always nice. If you love sweet and tangy drinks or you are just a lemonade fan in general, I highly recommend this ombré lemonade. 

The Iconic TikTok Drink – 10/10

“Iced white mocha with vanilla sweet cream foam and extra caramel drizzle”

This combination was created by @annaxsitar, and it spread around TikTok like wildfire. I was excited to finally be able to try it, and now that I have, I don’t regret it at all. I absolutely fell in love, and it is now my go-to coffee order. The vanilla sweet cream foam and the extra caramel drizzle added the perfect touch of sweetness. While I’m not usually the biggest coffee drinker, I would gladly drink this every day if I could. The next time you’re thinking about what to order from starbucks, give this one a try!

Featured image by TR on Unsplash