Healthy Eating On The Go

Eating healthy on the go is tough. Eating healthy and plant based on the go is nearly impossible.

A lot of times I just need something to grab and go, preferably to eat in the car. These choices are deplorable. Yet, when there’s time to sit down for a meal, the choices are almost as bad.

Everything is double meat, loaded down with cheese, packed with sodium and deep fried. It’s all bread and pasta and sad little iceberg lettuce salads that are also smothered in cheese and croutons.

Yuck.

I’ve come to accept that true plant based healthy eating isn’t easy and often impossible in the outside world. A packed lunch can remedy the problem some days but isn’t always feasible.

I have figured out that Meijer is a great source for healthful food. They offer a nice selection of fresh salads and cups of cut up fruits. Some salads have meat while others like their Mediterranean, garden salad or nuts and berry salad are meat free. And yeah, it’s a lot of fruit if the salad contains fruit but it’s better than going hungry!

About $5 for a salad and $2-3 for a cup of fresh fruit and it’s more nutritious than the Impossible Whopper at BK which is the usual alternative.

The above picture shows a salad I had for dinner in Michigan last month and a container of fruit I had bought for breakfast.

When I do have the opportunity to eat in a restaurant at a table with a knife and fork like a real human, it’s fun to enjoy a treat that I normally don’t have. Pizza comes to mind. So does diner grub like grilled cheese or pancakes. I have adopted a sort of go big or go home mentality when it comes to these dining experiences – enjoy the grilled cheese and fries in the great old diner atmosphere but go back to normal eating the next meal.

It’s not a great plan but it works.

So I’m dying to know- what are your healthy eating on the go tips? Bonus points if you have vegan ideas!

Breakfast at Bakn

The Pittsburgh neighborhood of Carnegie boasts the cutest local restaurant called Bakn.

Their logo is a little carton pig. It’s used in the wall art, menu and all through the restaurant. Nichola laughed as we discussed what an unorthodox choice this place was for a plant based eater. While they don’t have much on the menu for a vegan eater, there were a few vegetarian choices. This worked great because I’m not super strict, especially when I travel.

I was perfectly happy with my hot cakes, a real treat that I like to indulge in while traveling.

They are Food Network endorsed with good reason. My breakfast was tasty and there was plenty of it. even the menu is fun to read here.

In the neighborhood? Hungry? Just enjoy dreaming over a good restaurant menu? Here you go!

Tomorrow we leave Pittsburgh and move on to other topics. Hope to see you back then!

From Whole 30 To Plant Based Eating

We have discussed the Whole 30 way of eating a few times on this blog. It’s a great means to ditch bad eating habits like a sugar addiction and to learn what foods might be causing your health issues.

Unfortunately, Whole 30 doesn’t have a vegetarian plan and instead pushes pescatarian eating. I followed this plan for more than a year, mainly straying off course in restaurants and for special occasions like cake in the lunchroom at work.

But I don’t care that much for seafood and had grown tired of the meal plan. It was time for a change but I wasn’t sure what that change would be.

Ditching the seafood in favor of vegetarian eating sounded favorable but so many vegetarian recipes prominently feature a grain – bread, pasta, rice – along with some kind of cheese and beans.

I hadn’t eaten grains, beans or dairy on any consistent basis since starting the Whole 30. Sure, I would order pizza, a sandwich or pancakes in a restaurant but never brought these things home.

Not even the healthy whole grain stuff.

As I wrestled with food questions, it became increasing clear that my desire to eat vegetarian was at odds with many of the unhealthy recipes the internet provides.

And then I met Dewey, a friend whose health scare caused him to completely overhaul his traditional American diet of basically everything he wanted. Now he eats a plant based diet which also eliminates oils and sugar.

He has cut his cholesterol in half and lost about forty pounds in a season. He now enjoys each day as a new man – energetic and happy.

When I expressed interest in his food habits, he shared the details of his diet – called the Engine 2 plan – and how it has improved his life.

Then he suggested I try it for thirty days.

I said yes because you can do anything for thirty days, right?

As the thirty day marker approaches, I am quite happy with this way of eating. I feel energetic, my skin looks better and I feel better most days.

Honestly, I’m still figuring out what works and what I like, experimenting with new recipes and trying to determine what is right for me.

I don’t expect to have such stunning results as Dewey has enjoyed. For one thing, going from eating mostly seafood and produce to including grains and beans seems like it will make weight loss a little harder.

But I love that I feel clear of mind and have lots of energy. Plus, I’m hopeful that my cholesterol will be a little lower at my next doctor visit.

The biggest challenge to date has been restaurant eating. There’s a road trip on the horizon this fall and restaurants in the towns where I’ll be have limited plant based options. If they have a meatless option, it’s typically grilled cheese or maybe some kind of heavy pasta or a sad little salad.

Restaurant green beans are often cooked with pork in them, giving even the sides section of a menu the feel of a mine field. And I refuse to live off the sad little iceberg lettuce salads that so many places try to pass off as a meal.

There are some fast food options. For example, the Burger King Impossible Whopper is tasty but it’s still heavily processed fast food that should be a treat rather than a dietary staple. Qdoba caters to vegans but I assume they use oils in their cooking. Yet cooking oil on vegetables sounds like a lesser evil than greasy grilled cheese someplace else. Subway preserves their vegetables to the point they taste like plastic so that’s not a viable option either.

The good news is that I’m clearly committed because I’m already considering how to make it work and how much I’m willing to bend on vacation.

Since I’ll be in one hotel for a few days, taking a blender would allow for breakfast smoothies in the room.

I’m thinking there will be pancakes for dinner one night – a comfort food and a luxury at dinner time if there ever was one. That’s a single meal with pancakes made from white flour, eggs and milk with highly processed syrup instead of the pure stuff from home.

What other concessions am I willing to make on vacation? These are not game time decisions because I promise you, I will make the wrong choice when I’m hungry and the pressure is on.

Every. Single. Time.

I don’t want to be so strict that eating becomes a hassle but I do want to find hacks and means for nourishing my body without sacrificing my goals.

That’s not asking too much, right?

A Funny Thing Happened On Day 29

Whole 30 Day 29 didn’t go as planned. I took a trip to the Franklin Park Conservatory for a morning of art and flowers. The plan was to buy a salad and eat the fruit and nuts that I had packed.

That was the plan until I discovered the food truck served the Beyond Burger. If you’re vegetarian you know how exciting it is to find a quality vegetarian options on a menu. The Beyond Burger is amazing.

As I stood there studying the menu, a part of me demanded that I order the salad and be happy about it. Just a day and a half to go and I could say I’ve successfully completed four rounds. But there was another voice. It was the voice of a person who has done a few successful rounds and who feels she has nothing to prove.

The goal of the Whole 30 for me is to reset my bad eating habits and to acquire a taste for whole foods that are good for me.

Would a day make a difference?

If you’re a beginner, yes.

If you’re trying to identify foods that cause your ailments, yes.

If it’s important to you personally that you accomplish the thirty days – you bet.

But for me? No.

I have done a pretty good job ridding myself of bad habits and there was nothing wrong with eating the Beyond Burger topped with onions, cabbage, peppers, mushrooms and the best tomato jam I’ve ever tasted.

It was a delicious experience eating my burger and feeling the breeze in my hair and I do not regret this decision.

If I were trying to complete a round, tomorrow would be a restart. Day one again. With Whole 30, you restart every time you stray from the rules. Every single time.

But for me, it’s not about the round. It’s about good health. So tomorrow I will simply continue making the best possible decisions, eating clean and feeling good about it.

A year ago, I would have felt like a quitter.

Today, I feel accomplished for knowing that goals and priorities change and that I’m capable of adapting rather than blindly following a rule.

Isn’t this what the quest for personal growth is all about?

Amy’s Meatless Pepperoni Pizza

If you’re vegetarian, it can sometimes be hard to find convenience foods that taste like actual food. I don’t bring a lot of processed food into my home but sometimes it’s fun to have something out of the ordinary.

This Amy’s meatless pepperoni pizza called my name at the grocery the other day and it seemed worth a try.

Friends, it’s pretty darn good.

The fact it’s meatless doesn’t make it healthy. It’s still processed and it’s still frozen pizza but it’s a tasty, fun little treat if you’re inclined to try something new!

Firehouse BBQ and Blues

I’ve mentioned before that I’m always grateful to find good vegetarian food when I travel.

There’s a place in the Historic Depot District of Richmond, Indiana called Firehouse BBQ and Blues. It has great character, good food and a couple of vegetarian options that aren’t boring old salads.

Plus, this place is a lot of fun to visit.

First of all, the building is a fantastic old stone firehouse with a mural on the side that depicts firefighters trying to catch a cat that was dropped from a second floor window. It was the city’s first firehouse, predating automobiles so the building once stabled horses that were used to pull the “fire trucks.”

Inside, you’ll find gorgeous wood floors and fun memorabilia from the city’s musical past. Another fun detailed is these great old pinball machines turned dining tables.

So back to the food. It is a bbq place so I had no choice. I had to order the bbq veggie wrap. It’s packed full of fresh veggies and black beans with a little cheddar cheese and bbq sauce. It’s absolutely delicious and filling. In my mind, bbq is meant to be eaten with mac and cheese. Theirs was just a tiny smidge dry but I forgave that flaw because it arrived in a small mason jar. I mean, really friends, how cute is that?

If you go, Firehouse BBQ and Blues welcomes kids until about 7 pm on the weekends. As the name suggests, they do have live blues music and a nice bar.

They’re located next door to a fantastic record store and across the street from the Model T Museum which I wrote about last month. Read about it here. This part of Indiana is also part of a couple of antique trails known as Antique Alley. I also wrote a little about my antiquing experiences from this trip.

Eating Vegetarian At the Old School Cafe

 

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Nothing makes a vegetarian feel more welcome in a restaurant than finding reasonably healthy, interesting vegetarian dishes on the menu. And I’m not talking grilled cheese and sad little salads either. I mean real food. Technically, I’m pescetarian, meaning that I’ll eat some fish and seafood. But even then, it’s not so healthy in most restaurants because everything comes deep fried.

Consequently, I’ve fallen into the rather unhealthy habit of just skipping meals sometimes when I’m out. Or I’ll pack snacks – RX Bars, apples, nuts, etc. just to have something. It’s easier that way. So you can imagine how thrilled I am every time a restaurant menu presents choices.

I had this delicious veggie wrap while out adventuring Saturday – fresh veggies, a small amount of fresh blended cheese and ranch dressing packed into a sun dried tomato wrap with a side of chips and a crisp, delicious pickle. Yum.

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I’m guessing I don’t have many followers in the southern Indiana region who are looking for quick vegetarian food, but if you are, this is the place to be. The meal was great and the atmosphere was fun too.

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