Monday, December 5, 2011

"What if there is nothing healthy around?"

With the holiday season upon us many of us will be out and about for Christmas parties, Hanakah parties, Qwanza parties, whatever it may be that you're celebrating, and there is bound to be lots of food on the horizon.  So how in the world do you find something healthy to eat when there is just nothing healthy in sight?  Here is what I have found: You starve.  OK, OK, I'm just kidding.  There are several options out there and this is what I have found:

Eating out: This is where I like to have fun.  Here in L.A. there are a TON of places that cater to the vegan palette.  My husband and I enjoy having date nights exploring new places.  If you want to learn to cook well with fake meats or tofu, go out and see how the pros do it...and then copy a thing or two back at home.  This is a great way to learn.  You can google vegan restaurants in your area and there is hopefully a good list of places that will come up.  In my area, here is a few that I enjoy:

The Veggie Grill
Green Peas
Native Foods
L.A. Vegan
Leaf Organics

But then of course there are the times that you're on the go or on a road trip and just need to grab a quick bite and there are NO vegan, whole food, raw food, type restaurants around, then what do you do?  Here are a few things that I have discovered:

Subway is always a good option.  They offer lots of fresh (or mostly fresh) veggies and they have a veggie patty which is really quite good in my opinion.  Every Subway I have ever been to, nation wide and overseas has the veggie patty.  I order mine with no cheese and no sauce (which so many people say is boring, but whatever, I like it that way.)

If you have to do fast food (we try to avoid it as much as possible) Burger King offers Morningstar patties on any of their burgers you just have to ask for it.  You most likely won't see it on their menu, but they do have them (or should, I have been to a few that haven't.) And you can ask for it "low carb" style with out the bun.  They'll put some extra lettuce leaves in there to hold it together. 

We like mexican food so we'll often do a Taco Bell or Del Taco or something.  Here I'll get a bean burrito with out the cheese.  Boring I know, but if you ask they'll throw in some lettuce and tomato ("pico de gallo") for you.  I've also discovered how to "veganize" Cafe Rio!  So we still have that quite often.  Just ask for extra beans and extra pico de gallo and you're set!  Chipotle is another great place and they do actually have a vegan menu. 

What about dinner out with friends or date night with a partner that just will not go to a vegan place?  Any restaurant you go to has salads.  Some are better then others, but every place has salads.  "But that's so boring!"  Yeah, well, your guts will thank you later for not stuffing them full of all that fatty grease.  You'll just feel better.  Trust me, I've done both ways and it's so much better leaving feeling like you could go for a run and not like you have to loosen your belt and take a long nap. 

Work parties, family parties, friend parties, these are all places where you kind of have to plan ahead.  Ask your boss or whomever is hosting the party to supply a vegan option.  If you're going to a restaurant, call ahead and see what the options are.  If nothing else, eat a large meal before you go or plan on eating a large meal after you leave.  No biggie.  But most people are willing to accommodate. 

And there you have my two cents on the matter of finding food when there seems to be no healthy options available.  I'd love to hear what you have found that works for you.  Where do you like to eat?  How do you make eating healthy on the go work for you?

A few of you have shown concern about how long it takes to prepare a healthy meal.  Let's tackle that one tomorrow, shall we?