SOL Cocina Executive Chef Deborah Schneider is encouraging those with health-focused New Year’s resolutions to stay on track with her menu of bold, modern interpretations of traditional Coastal Mexican cuisine with a focus on seasonal, sustainable ingredients. Her menu features fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and sustainable proteins packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Her style of “scratch cooking,” rather than utilizing packaged, processed ingredients, has earned her much attention for her “stealth health” approach to Mexican cuisine.
“My philosophy of ‘healthy’ eating is to make every bite count. Think colorful, fresh and simple. I prefer quality over convenience,” explained Chef Deb, as she is known to her guests. “At SOL Cocina, we go for big flavor from small quantities of top-quality, fresh ingredients.”
SOL’s kitchen makes more than 20 fresh salsas daily, and most items are grilled or braised, and served with these fresh salsas, rather than heavy sauces. Chef Deb’s sides are all nonfat, and her salad dressings are thickened with avocado and are made with fresh fruit juices and almost no added oil.
Menu items can be paired with equally fresh, seasonal offerings from SOL’s bar with Farmers Market Margaritas that change twice a month. The intriguing cocktails bring a contemporary approach to traditional Mexican drinks, with a focus on fresh and immediate flavors. Our bar menu revolves around the same philosophy our kitchen follows with a commitment to the freshest ingredients to ensure the best tasting, most flavorful cocktails, and SOL’s Farmers Market Margaritas focus on the purity of fresh ingredients, including fresh juices, fruits, herbs and vegetables. Margarita mixes are made in-house with fresh citrus juices and sugar, and contain no HFCS, preservatives or coloring. Fresh fruit-based margaritas are often sweetened with agave and utilize tequilas that are organically produced.
Chef Deb offers a first-hand “tour” through her menu and philosophy with this guide through some of her dishes:
- Guacamoles are made with added fresh fruits and vegetables, which add flavor and nutritional value. Avocados are good for you!
- Peel & Eat Shrimp Cucarachas are tasty shrimp cooked in the shell, which you have to peel before eating. They make their own delicious sauce in the bowl.
- Hot & Raw Tropical Ceviche, served with Beet & Yam Chips, is my power lunch – fresh lean fish, fresh citrus juices, fruit and fresh vegetables along with yummy, colorful beet and yam chips made in-house.
- Ceviche SOL is a mixture of sashimi-grade fish, fresh-squeezed citrus juices and raw tomato salsa, with slices of creamy, healthy avocado.
- Corn & Poblano Soup is high in fiber and vitamins; this is simply corn, poblanos, water and seasoning – no cream.
- Tortilla Soup with Fried Tortillas is made with our own homemade chicken broth and cooked chicken, combined with fresh tomatoes and herbs. It is light and sooooo good for you!
- Ensalada SOL is made with a mix of napa cabbage and other healthy greens, with mango, tomato and our own low-fat dressing. A garnish of crunchy pepitas (pumpkin seeds) is high in B vitamins and iron.
- Shrimp Esquites Salad is small but packed with flavors of fresh lemon, strong salty cotixa cheese, peppery arugula and sweet shrimp.
- Mexx Chopp Salad is our answer to the heavy, fattening cobb salad. It gets its flavor from a cabbage –rich salad mix small quantities of healthy, lowfat garnishes: black beans, tomato, grilled corn, nopales (cactus) all tossed with house-made low fat dressing thickened with avocado, and a few sautéed almonds.
- Our tacos (with a couple of indulgent exceptions) feature lean grilled meats on non-fat corn tortillas, topped with flavorful fresh vegetable and fruit salsas. There is almost no fat in our preparations – just big tastes.
- Vegetarian tacos get the premium treatment as well. The vegetables on these have been described as “meaty” in their own right.
- Poblano Mushroom & Corn Taco is full of healthy chiles and mushrooms, which fresh tomato salsa and a small amount of low-fat cheese.
- Sweet Potato & Black Bean Taco is a rich-tasting combination of roasted sweet potatoes, fiber-rich black beans and roasted chiles with a small amount of cheese.
- Grilled Chipotle Chicken Desmadres is boneless, skinless white meat chicken flash- grilled with a small amount of fat-free chipotle and garlic marinade. The accompanying arugula salad is mixed with chunks of tomato and onion and a small amount of avocado.
- Tacones (Skinny Burrito) is like a burrito but made with a lightly dressed salad and lean grilled protein.
- Shredded Beef Enchiladas Gringas mixes equal amounts of fresh tomatoes, chiles, onions and fresh-ground spices and lean, slow-cooked shredded beef. The sauce is pure dried red chile, packed with antioxidants and virtually fat-free.
- Shrimp Chile Relleno is grilled (not battered and fried), stuffed with bright green rice made with healthy roasted green chiles and cilantro, and topped with a few tasty garlic shrimp, a small amount of cheese and fresh tomato salsas.
- Fish Pibil is a sustainably caught wild fish rubbed with a non-fat seasoning paste (adobo), pan seared in a small amount of vegetable oil and roasted. The tequila ‘butter’ is made with half butter and half avocado, and the salsa diabla is pure tomato, simmered down.
- Shortribs is a cut of premium beef slow-braised until tender in a sauce of red chile and tomato, which renders out much of the fat, leaving behind tender, flavorful meat. The sauce is de-fatted and the short ribs are served with crisp nopales, vegetables and onions.
Black Beans – virtually non-fat, flavored with smoky soy ‘bacon’ and lots of vegetables
Red Rice - made with tomato and achiote
Slaw – nonfat dressing made with fresh-squeezed juices , plenty of healthy raw shredded cabbage and carrots
Quinoa Salad – cooked quinoa, high in protein, mixed with fresh tomatoes, dried cranberries and crunchy pepitas, nonfat dressing made with fresh citrus juices
Full menus, including Cocktail List, Happy Hour menu and Wine List, can be found online at http://www.solcocina.com/newport-beach/menu/.