Hi friends and greetings from S. Beach Miami Florida!
What an adventure I have had this last week, taking 6 days to drive my little car across the country with my friend Tony to start the next chaper of my life. Miami is such a wonderful place to be! It’s tropical and warm with buzzing energy! People everywhere are running, paddleboarding, tai chi-ing, doing yoga or playing vollyball on the beach. It’s very inspiring and I am taking it all in. I took my very first yoga class tonight and I was so happy I could WALK there…something I could never do living in the San Fernando Valley. It’s the simple things I came here in search of. Living just feet from the beach (and having it be affordable!), interesting night life walking distance away, my yoga studio close by and my work commute being about 10 min vs. 45 min. I have no doubt I made the right choice, but afterall, it’s only January and from what I hear, the summer humidity can be brutal at best, but I did, however, live in Costa Rica, which is known for it’s humidity as well. Time will tell…
I wanted to share my road trip experience with you from the food perspective because as you can imagine, being a health conscious vegan and driving through places like Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, finding appropriate foods can be challenging. This certainly was an experience of a lifetime and I hope my findings will inspire you to know that you too, have the power to go anywhere and do anything with the right amount of perserverance and preparation. It’s not even about willpower…it’s about knowing your eating lifestyle and taking responsibility for your health and well being, no matter what the situation. There is never really an excuse to eat poorly, in my opinion. You always have the choice and I am living a life currently, where I stand up for my personal choices and do what I have to do to get what I need, and I encourage you to do the same. It’s VERY empowering!
First, let me share with you my list of staple foods I ate during the trip: groats (unprocessed oatmeal that can be soaked overnight and eaten as a raw cereal), raw honey, dates, raw almonds, rice chips (BBQ and honey dijon-I was a bit obsessed with these, lol), almond butter, goji berries, whole wheat tortillas, granola, almond milk (when available), hummus (when available), rye crackers, bananas, apples and baby carrots. I really only had a few meals “out”.
Our first stop was in Blythe, CA, just outside of AZ and we attempted to try a Mexican restaurant, but it was too “restaurant-y” vs. fast food and we wanted to keep moving, so we went to a smaller place where Tony got a carne asada burrito and I brought in my whole wheat tortilla, raw honey and almond butter and made my own “burrito”, only asking the restaurant for a plate to use. Hey, it worked and we were both happy. There was absolutely nada I could eat off that menu, so thankfully I was prepared to fend for myself.
We then headed to Scottsdale, Arizona to stay the night with a cousin I have there. He took us to Green Restaurant, which was a cute little vegan cafe (bless his little heart…he looked it up and told me it supposedly was the “best” vegan in town). There I had a bowl of brown rice in sort of a coconut curry sauce with veggies. It was nice after a long drive to have something substantial. I was able to soak my groats that night (since it was my cousin’s house) and made everyone raw cereal in the morning which consisted of the groats, banana, almond milk, honey and cinnamon.
We met up with my friend’s cousin the next day at their favorite childhood spot (my friend grew up in Tucson) called Lucky Wishbone, and this was definitely NOT a vegan friendly place…Tony and his cousin shared what was called the Family Feast, which contained steak “fingers” (deep fried steak strips…grass fed? Prob not.), french fries and thick pieces of white toast with butter. YU-UM. I sat quietly and waited while they ate. Tony’s cousin told us how to get to Sunflower Market, which was a health food store down the street. Thanks, cuz! Eureka! There I found hummus, baby carrots, sprouts and lettuce greens and more rice chips! I was a happy camper. 🙂
We then headed to Van Horn, TX on our way to Dallas and I made my breakfast in the morning there…I had Bare Naked granola, almond milk, banana, and honey. Not much was in between Van Horn and Dallas, so I mostly snacked on almond butter, apples and my rice chips. 🙂
In Dallas, I was able to stock up at Whole Foods (yay!). We stayed with a dear friend of mine and made a healthy dinner together of brussels sprouts, a huge salad, guacamole, and I took a soup to go, while they all dined on steak (after all, I suppose carnivores must have steak if they visit Texas). 🙂
After leaving Texas (it took 2 days to get through…everyone told us Texas would be a pain and it WAS!), we headed to New Orleans, LA, where I knew it would be a challenge to find healthy food since it’s known for it’s beignets, seafood and fried foods. We attempted to find a restaurant called Jaques-Imo, which came recommended by a few friends and apparently had some things on the menu they could do vegan (I called ahead), but the place was way uptown, and we wanted to stick around near Bourbon St., so we found a place called The Gumbo Shop where I had a veggie soup (it was quite tasty) and I had white beans and rice, which was really my only option. It was substantial, but not the healthiest. It did the trick for gearing up for a night out on Bourbon St., though. 😉 The server, Kim, was very accommodating to my restrictions and when I asked her if she was vegetarian, she said no, but she thought she should be. 🙂
Since we were staying at a hostel in Nawlins, I was able to use the kitchen facilities to make my breakfast in the morning, which was a bowl of granola, almond butter, dates, goji berries, and raw honey. I did end up eating a lot of the same things, but to me, food=fuel, so it does not have to be extravagant, but do only one job–serve me well. And these foods did.
Moving on to Tallahassee, we had to go through Mississippi and Alabama-tough luck in these places, so it was a good thing we sailed right through, but not before Tony was to get his crawfish fix (since he didn’t get what he wanted in New Orleans), so we made a stop at a place called Felix’s in Alabama, where he got a gigantic bowl of fresh jumbo shrimp, crab soup and fried crawfish and was a happy man. I ate a small baked potato with olive oil and chives. That was the best I could do, and I was really hungry, so I had to eat something. To me, though, this was me being “really bad”, as I never really consume white potatoes much, especially since I am pretty sure it was NOT organic. Also, the olive oil tasted funny. It was probably not that fresh. But, cest la vie.
We did, however, find an international market near Pensacola, FL where I was able to purchase dolmas (grape leaves w/ seasoned rice filling), fresh hummus and Wasa rye crackers-thank the lord! I ate this for 2 days straight! I was so happy about this find!
We left Tallahassee and headed on down to South Beach, finally! On the way, we stopped at a travel plaza, where Tony and I could find foods that suited us both. He found a chicken salad and I got an Acai smoothie! Right on! It did the trick for a while, but we were pretty hungry by the time we landed in SoBe. We got unpacked, showered and headed out on the town (in Miami, people eat late, anyway, and there are plenty of places open) and decided to try News Cafe. I ordered gazpacho, which was very tasty, raw and vegan (yay!) and Tony got coconut shrimp. We were ready for bed after that journey!
In the morning, Tony’s last day on the trip, we ate breakfast at a place walking distance from my new home called Pura Vida (love it!) and both got the TASTIEST Acai bowls which had Acai, mango, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries and organic granola. It was a huge portion (it better had been for $9.95!), and worth EVERY penny! We both went crazy over this delicious bowl of goodness! That was a great meal to end our food journey with. We agreed that we could both eat that for breakfast every day!
So, once Tony left, I went to the Mother Land (Whole Foods) and stocked up on my greens, almond milk, avos, hummus, etc…my staples and now I am back to my regular eating lifestyle. I am pleased with how the trip went and was proud of myself for making it work so well. Also, it is important to note that although Tony and I eat very differently, this caused no friction or waves between us. We both respect each other’s food choices and looked out for each other, helping to get what we both needed to be happy on the trip. Tony was the BEST and I couldn’t have picked a better person to make my cross country trek with. Thank you Tony, from the bottom of my heart and I love you.
So, I hope this info has helped you understand that you most certainly CAN travel, be away from home and stick to your healthy eating lifestyle no matter what. It does not have to be a struggle if you plan it right, but this takes discipline, drive, and proper planning ahead.
-Do your research and look up restaurants before you head out on your trip.
-Have a GPS or smart phone handy so you can look up places while on the go.
– Bring an ice chest, silverware and napkins so you can dine anywhere.
-Always have water.
-Always look at the sides on a menu when dining out, as you will most likely find the healthiest choices there. Also, you can tell the server you are allergic to certain things (dairy, wheat, etc), so they will have to be extra careful prepping your food. 🙂
-Always have SOMETHING on you…nuts, an apple, an energy bar. NEVER get caught without any food at ALL. You may not be enjoying a gigantic lovely vegan feast, but at least you will be well nourished.
-Call ahead. You can always call markets, restaurants, or hotels to inquire about foods and see if they have anything for you. Most places try to accommodate, as long as you are nice about it. 🙂
-Consult a NUTRITION COACH for planning your next trip!
If YOU were inspired and want to get healthier NOW, not just when planning your outings, contact me for nutritional counseling! I’m here to help and what better day to start than TODAY?? It’s a new year and that could mean a whole new YOU!
Happy travels, happy life and happy 2011 from the beaches of Florida!