Greetings from Long Beach, CA!
Normally when I’m flying somewhere, I pre-prepare a whole bunch of meals and snacks for the plane, since I usually can’t eat a single thing there. But this time, I spent the whole morning and night before moving out of my apartment and into a new Brooklyn apartment that I didn’t have a second to spare. So I had to use my creative skills to work to find a way to fuel myself on this flight. Fortunately, JFK is a pretty resourceful airport, so here’s what I was able to find.
JAMU Pineapple Juice
While a green juice would have been preferred, this juice was a pretty good option under the circumstances. During flights a lot of us tend to have indigestion, so I wanted to make sure I had something that would be able to prevent it. Pineapple is perfect for this reason because it has a great deal of enzymes that help in breaking down foods and curbing bloating. The juice also had curcumin and ginger, which also help with indigestion. In addition, this juice was extremely hydrating, which is important since flights can also contribute to dehydration!
A Huge Bottle of Water—very important because we all know that those little cups are definitely NOT sufficient.
A Desperate Salad Turned Delicious
Desperate times called for desperate measures. Here’s how I can usually find a meal almost anywhere.
- Get a plain packaged salad. I was lucky to find kale, but any type of lettuce will do.
- Throw out the dressing (if there is any) I can guarantee you it’s soy, sugar-filled, garbage.
- Find an avocado. I looked around the food court to see which restaurants had avocado-containing dishes. Then I went to the manager, put on my sweetest smile, and asked for an avocado. And I got one. In addition to a few laughs. 😉
- Bring a plastic fork and knife onto the flight (they likely won’t give you one unless you purchase food) and mash the whole avocado into your salad to make a dressing. VOILA!
Brad’s Kale Chips
I was very luck to find these in the airport! These chips are dehydrated and sprinkled with raw nuts and spices to make a delicious and satisfying snack that beats the Lay’s and Planters snacks that are on the plane.
I hope this goes to show that eating a healthful, vegan diet can be done under ANY circumstance and even with little planning!
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been coming to Puerto Rico to visit my family for years. Although the island is known for not being vegetarian-friendly, I’ve found ways to keep my diet–even when I’m surrounded by meat eaters! Here’s how I do it.
Keep Your Eyes Out for Health Food Stores
Surprisingly, there are tons of health food stores in Puerto Rico. If you’re staying in Dorado, I can recommend three that exist within a 10 mile radius, including Verde Natura, Essential Organics, and Armonia. They tend to be tucked away, however, so you need to keep your eyes peeled. My favorite health food store in Puerto Rico is Dora’s in Manati–although I know this is a bit far for most who visit and stay in San Juan. If you’re staying in San Juan, however, check out Superfoods in Condado or La Buena Mesa de Oscar in Rio Piedras, which also has a vegetarian cafe right next to it!
Stock up on These Puerto Rican Treats
Plantains: Sorry, I’m not talking about fried plantains or plantain chips (that’s not to say I didn’t have one during my trip…uh oh!) I’m talking about boiled plantains with no grease added. Plantains not only help with digestion, they also are high in calcium and have been proven to help improve brain functioning. Try blending some into Abuela’s plantain soup!
Avocados: Avocados in Puerto Rico are so delicious. They tend to be bigger and juicier than the avocados you find in the States. Not only that, you can find them anywhere. My aunt has a tree full of avocados that has been growing for years—talk about local! They’re also sold at about every fruit stand that you can find. This made eating very easy for me. Whenever my family planned to go to a place that I knew wasn’t vegetarian-friendly, I would always sneak in an avocado to add to a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. And with all the essential fatty acids, half an avocado was just enough to make me feel full and satisfied.
Cold Coconuts (Cocos Frios): It’s not rare in Puerto Rico to see a coconut stand while driving on the local roads. These are as fresh as they can get! Open one up and you’ll get a great dose of coconut water to keep you hydrated on a hot caribbean day.
Check out Places with Vegetarian Options
Casa Lola, Condado: Being that I have the most awesome family in the world, my cousin picked this place out with me in mind when he invited my family out to dinner. In addition to the normal Puerto Rican foods (fritters, pork, seafood, etc.) this restaurant offered some great salads and vegetarian options. I started my meal off with a salad and had a vegetarian platter with chard, asparagus, mushrooms, and vegetarian beans. Yum!
Café Berlin, Old San Juan: Although a little bit tofu-heavy for my taste, this little gem in Old San Juan has a full vegetarian menu with gluten-free options along with fish and meat options. I had the vegan “meatloaf” (made with rice, beans, and vegetables) and a house salad. Perfect for ending a night of strolling the cobble stone streets of the historic neighborhood.
There are so many places to get your sweat on in Puerto Rico. I definitely recommend taking classes atIt’s Yoga Puerto Rico in Condado. The studio is better than any New York studio I’ve been to and is just a walk away from the beach! You can also experience the beautiful scenery of the island either by running or hiking outside. On the days where I didn’t practice yoga, I would either hike or run in the nearby neighborhood, where I would frequently see reptiles, coquis, and beautiful greenery. Some great places to go hiking include el Yunque Rainforest and El Torro Negro State Forest.
I hope this helps you on your next trip to La Isla del Encanto!
Smelling the flowers at el Torro Negro. Such beautiful greenery!
The biggest complaint that I hear from those trying to eat properly is lack of time. I am too familiar with this problem. I first decided to start changing my eating habits when working as an associate teacher at a high stakes charter school. My day started at 7:30 AM, so I’d leave my place in a rush and skip out on breakfast. I couldn’t leave the school for lunch (first year teachers were put on lunch duty) so I either didn’t eat or ate whatever food was around—wheat-thins, high sugary/additive processed foods, etc. But once I started getting sick from all this food (which by the way, speaks to what we’re putting in our children’s bodies everyday, but that’s another post) I decided to start making eating healthy a priority. In doing so, I learned that the key to eating properly at work is to really utilize your workspace. Here’s how I did it:
Leave Food at Work
For breakfast, store some breakfast that can be made quickly. Keep a mix of gluten free rolled oats, chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, and cinnamon in the office. I eat the mixture with almond milk, but if you don’t have access to a refrigerator, you can cook the mixture with hot water. This can also be a great before-work breakfast; just throw the mix in a tupperware bowl with some almond milk to take with you on-the-go.
For lunch, keep avocados and flaxseed crackers/gluten-free bread at your office to make an on-the-go sandwich. If you have access to a fridge, add lettuce, tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar so you can throw together a salad in a few minutes.
Have Snacks on Hand
Even when I stocked the fridge while teaching, sometimes I didn’t even have time to run to the kitchen to put together my lunch. That’s how crazy the day would get! So you should keep emergency snacks on you at all times, especially if you have a job where your lunchtime hours are unpredictable.
Here are some of the snacks I like:
Lara bars–perfect if you have a little bit of a sweet tooth.
Almonds/individual packets of raw almond butter– extremely filling and provide an excellent source of good fats to keep you focused throughout your day!
Roasted soy nuts– good for energy and a complete source of protein.
Green Vibrance–super greens that can be mixed with water to make a green-juice type mix. It don’t taste too great, but gives you tons of nutrients and energy to keep you full and on-your-feet. It also provides a huge source of green vegetables in one serving!
Organic, Cage-Free, Hard Boiled Eggs–although I generally try to stay away from eggs, a hardboiled egg or two can replace a full meal for my non-vegan friends. Boil a bunch over the weekend so that you can throw some into your bag in the mornings.
Exercise Your Right to Take a Lunch Break
If you’re in New York, chances are that you have a boss who tries to make you work through your lunch break. Guess what–that is not legal (at least in NY). Many Unemployment Insurance judges have even held that employees quitting due to their bosses’ repeated failure to grant a 30 minute (uninterrupted) lunch break were entitled to unemployment benefits! Bottom line–always take your lunch break–it’s your right!
Prepare Smoothies—Before Work and At Work
Drinking smoothies is the best way to satisfy hunger with minimal effort. If you have a few minutes in the morning, throw some spinach, chard, banana, and mango with water in a blender and put it in a to-go cup before getting to work. If you don’t have time in the morning, invest in a portable blender –I got mine for only $15—and keep it at work so that you can make a two-minute smoothie once you get to the office or during a short break. This may seem a little strange, but it definitely pays off. Even the judge that I’m currently interning for in the S.D.N.Y keeps a magic bullet blender in his chambers!
Water, Water, Water
Sometimes when we’re busy, we forget the most important thing—WATER! You need to keep a huge water bottle with you all day. I have a friend who keeps a gallon of water in her classroom. Keep a large water bottle (at least one liter) with you at your desk (or in your classroom, postal bag, etc.) and make sure to drink at least half of it before lunch and the other half after lunch.
Eating on-the- go may be tough, but it’s not impossible. With preparation and dedication, you can find yourself eating healthy at work without interfering too much with your schedule. Happy eating!
This is the dish I had when eating at Florencia 13 in the village with some friends from work. A salad with radishes, tomatoes, asparagus, onions and a side of Guacamole as dressing. Delicious!
I mentioned a week ago that you can eat properly almost everywhere as long as you are thoughtful and well-prepared. Today, I want to show you how to eat gluten-free and vegan at a MEXICAN restaurant. YUM!
Recently, some of my co-interns and I wanted to go out for food and happy hour. It was a good time for us to get to know each other outside the workplace and just enjoy ourselves. When one of the interns suggested Mexican, I was excited—I’ve got Mexican ordering down!
Things to watch out for:
While beans are normally a good source of protein for vegetarians, the beans at most Mexican restaurants are refried and full of lard. Yuk! Black beans, on the other hand, tend to be OK. So if you’re really in the mood for beans when you’re eating at a Mexican restaurant, say no to the refried and opt for black beans if they have them.
Tortillas, Tacos, Etc.
There are two problems with taco and tortilla shells. First, a lot of them are made with flour, which has gluten and is hard to digest. While Mexican places usually offer corn tortilla options, corn is a food that I approach with caution. Given the extreme mass-production of corn in the United States (its in almosteverything!) it is highly genetically modified, high in sugar, and void of nutrients. So unless you are in luck and find a restaurant that has organic, corn tortillas, try to keep the corn to a minimum.
Talk about sugar! Limeade concentrate, tequila, triple sec, oh-my! Obviously alcohol is not the most nutritious thing for anyone in any form, but margaritas really take the cake. Opt for red wine instead, which at least has some beneficial property when consumed in moderation.
How I Eat Mexican Style:
I love love love guacamole! Filled with vegetables and avocados, it is a wonderful combination of good fats and fiber to keep you full and happy. Most Mexican places will start you out with guacamole and chips. I’ll only have a few of the chips (or if I’m really exercising self-restrain, I won’t have any!) and then give myself a scoop of the guacamole to eat before my meal comes.
Vegetables and Salads
Some Mexican places have some sort of salad that is vegan and gluten free. The restaurant I went to this weekend had a vegan and gluten-free salad called “El montecito,” so I was in luck. I usually will order my salad with a side of guacamole to use as dressing. So much better than whatever sugary, processed dressing that they might have! If there are no vegetarian salads, however, I’ll order two sides of steamed vegetables with guacamole and make my own. Like I said, it’s important to be creative when eating healthy!
If I see that there are black beans on the menu, I’ll ask a ton of questions about them–are they vegetarian? how are they prepared?. If they are not fried and are vegetarian, I’ll add them to my salad to add as a nice protein to round out my meal.