From NOLA, With Kale

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Evening! I’m drafting this post from quite a few miles high in the sky, as I make my way back to NYC. I’m happy you all enjoyed the weekend recaps—especially my thoughts on vegan dining in a non-vegan city.

I woke up this morning bright and early, and hit Chloe’s elliptical once again for a pleasant indoor workout. Some pushups later, it was breakfast time. I’d had my heart set on a smoothie—in fact, I’d frozen some bananas accordingly—but alas, I forgot that I was nearly out of almond milk. Blogger fail #2. No biggie, though: I opted for the same sort of oat bran breakfast I had yesterday, and it was delish:

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Oat bran with banana, blueberries, chia seeds, and Justin’s peanut butter. Con café:

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It may sound silly, but little moments like this—switching around breakfast plans because I’ve run out of something—make me grateful for how far I’ve come with my rigidity about meals and meal planning. I remember days of yore in which the slightest detour to my meticulously calculated meal plans (if we can call them that, since they were heavier on planning than they were on actual meals) would send me into an anxious tailspin. I’ve managed to preserve an organized attitude toward my meals, and I’m excellent at planning grocery runs, recipe prep, and so on, but I also know how to go with the flow when my almond milk is close to empty. And it feels great.

Chloe and Knud spent their morning meeting their future companion animal—a baby girl puppy with black fur and big, sweet eyes, whom I later got to meet via photos and video—but I had to hang back and master some calculus homework in preparation for the week ahead. Bummer, but I got it done with a little time to spare. In that time, I went out for one last, long walk around Chloe’s neighborhood. There are lots of things I love about NOLA: diversity, a rich cultural fabric, a great live music scene, and lots of history, to name a few. But what I might like best, at least for selfish reasons, is that it’s a walking friendly city, and I’m big on walks Smile

I had a warm stroll to Audubon Park and back, and by the time I got home, I was in a time crunch to depart for the airport. I wanted veggies in my body ASAP, so I threw together a giant salad of romaine, white beans, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, an avocado dressing I’ll be writing about soon, and the last of my raw mashed potatoes. I may not have kept my eye on the dwindling almond milk, but I did a good job of estimating how much of the raw potatoes I’d want. It was a great, filling lunch:

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And with that, it was off to MSY for a wistful parting with Chloe. On my way from NOLA to Charlotte (hi twins! Sorry I couldn’t delay my connection and hang wit u) I snacked on some of these nuts and dried fruits that were offered to me from the kind folks at Flanigan Farms some time ago:

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I got two flavors of individual snack packs, and I’ve used both frequently as snacks on this week of travel. The nuts and seeds aren’t all raw, which is a bummer, since I prefer nuts that way, but they’re without added sweeteners or salt, and they’re packaged in 1.0 and 1.5 oz. bags, which I LOVE. It’s so hard for most consumers to eat a reasonable amount of trail mix—one handful becomes two, three, and ten—and the larger bags are really designed to keep us munching. Good for Flanigan Farms for putting aside the bottom line and packaging only so much as is a reasonable portion.

My flight to Charlotte was delayed, and I was pretty nervous about catching my flight back to NYC, but I made the connection with about two minutes to spare (some comical sprinting was involved). Once settled on my flight, I made myself an in-flight dinner:

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That’s a) water, b) apple slices, c) raw, massaged kale salad, packed and brought from Chloe’s, and d) a Vega Vibrancy Bar – my favorite of all the commercial raw, vegan snack bars. Vega bars aren’t too sweet, the texture is ideal, and they’ve got a decent amount of protein:

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The apples weren’t organic, and they had some preservatives in them, but I’d known that salad and a bar alone wouldn’t do, and it was either the snack pack or some really terrible looking red delicious apples, drowning in wax. The snack pack won, and actually didn’t taste bad:

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As for my raw kale salad…well, when isn’t it awesome?

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You know, I usually hate to eat on planes. There’s nothing less fun than being trapped to a seat on a very long flight as you digest, and moreover, it feels unromantic to eat on the go. Even so, we all have to do it sometimes—I’m not about to start missing meals when I travel—so make the best of it by laying out my food, appreciating each and every component, and packing stuff I know I’ll want to eat ahead of time. One of my strongest eating habits is to always try to make my meals ceremonious: back in my 9-7 days, if I was trapped at the office for dinner, I’d actually set down a little napkin and light a candle at my desk as I worked; nowadays, I’ll try to do similar things with my student meals on the go. (Lord knows what I’ll need to do when it comes time for clinical rotations one day.) No one’s perfect, and I have my share of slapdash meals on the go, but I do my best as often as I can.

And now, the plane is nearing my beautiful city, so it’s about time for me to put the netbook away (Ian, I use a Dell, and I love it). I’m so happy I made it to NOLA this weekend: my life has gone through such upheaval since the fall that I’ve felt a little unmoored lately. It’s rare that I get to spend time with friends, but the time I do have with them always seems to buoy me again.

And now, the smell of NYC streets and some long overdue phone catch up with M–whom I’m missing like crazy–awaits. Night!


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  1. you are seriously such an inspiration to me, can I just say that?

    Rigidity vs flexibility is something I work at everyday! Even on ‘silly little things’ like eating 45 minutes later than I had planned or going to one restaurant vs another. But it’s those moments that make me work through my personal battles and conquer my fears! Every challenge is a step in the right direction, and I can definitely see the pay-off and progress i’ve made!

    Your recipes always make me droool. Loveeee!

    have a great day,

  2. I actually have to eat a lot before or during a plane ride so I don’t get sick. I like traveling on a full stomach! I need to try that vegan bar. I didn’t like the ones I tried but the packaging was all different.

    • Those were probably the sweeter sports bars — too sweet for me! These are really great — simple, but great.

  3. Sometimes it’s when we leave our usual routines that we can see how far we’ve come. Awesome that you’ve recognized how much you’ve loosened up. I have to ask, though, couldn’t you have made a smoothie anyway: used up what almond milk you had, with bananas and blueberries, and rounded it out with some pb and water to make up for the lacking almond milk?

    I reviewed those vega bars on my blog a little while ago and agree that they’re among the best out there for genuinely healthy on the go snacks.

    Love the story of your ritual for eating: I think it’s so important and good to reinforce when your time is pressed every which way.

    • Oh, I’m sure I could! But I don’t love water based smoothies in a regular blender — that would work in a Vita, though.

  4. I always hate it when I have planned on and anticipated a meal and I find out that I’m missing a key ingredient! I admire your attitude and how far you’ve come in your eating/planning – I am working towards that goal, but admittedly haven’t reached it yet! I also try to make my meals ceremonious too! I think that life is too short to eat food that isn’t good, and I try to enjoy every bite!

  5. Happy travels Gena. I’m just heading out on a plane myself this morning, and packing up my plane lunch: a manna bread sandwich with some sunflower sprouts that I grew over the last number of days. I really want to take some zucchini hummus, but I’m not sure if I can fit a container into my small “liquids and gels” carry on allowance given my other items already packed. It’s always kind of fun opening up my brown bag meal on a plane. You see other people looking longingly at your food as they settle into their waxed apple slices and packaged airplane “food”. I’ll drink my green juice on the drive to the airport, so my mind and belly will be ready for the trip.

    For longer trips I’ve learned to pack my hand blender, some raw nuts, a small container of tahini or dressing, some Vega protein powder, and some raw crackers. Once I hit my destination, I stock up my hotel room with fruits and veggies and I’m good to go. Very nice that you had Chloe to host you vs. a generic hotel chain : )

  6. Raw massaged kale is one of my favorite leafy green creations. I’m just sorry I only recently discovered it.

    You travel way more gracefully than I do, lol. I whine the entire way and cave in to unhealthy food options. You did so well!

  7. I just bought some chocolate Vega bars! They are pretty good. That’s a good idea, Gena, to try and make as many meals as possible ceremonious-I agree-as I read this post while scarfing down some cereal 😉

  8. I’m quite mindless when it comes to eating.
    you’re meals always look so pretty — I swear you could make a piece of rotten banana look good.

    I like those vega vibrancy bars. Just wish they were cheaper…

  9. that food looks so amazing–and I can’t believe I’m saying that about food on an airplane!! I am inspired now to do much more planning ahead while traveling. Welcome back to NYC! 🙂

  10. I’ll bet that kale hit the spot! Funny, last night my first tweet when I got home Florida was that I was craving kale! I did find some edamame and humus at a CIBO Express in the Orlando airport so I had a nice ‘dinner’ on the way home.

    Nice to be back in NY, yes? Just bummed about the cooler temps…and rain (snow?!) predicted for later today….

  11. you are making me think that I really need to make my meals special. ALL of them are eaten in front of my computer! sometimes I eat breakfast while blowdrying my hair and blogging at the same time! i think i’m missing out on all the fun 🙂

  12. It’s amazing what a bit of ceremony can do for a scattered life. After an incredibly stressful week I did laundry, cleaned my room, did hot yoga, and went out to dinner with friends. That’s my re-centering. Glad you got some of your own. Your food looks fresh and delicious. I’m waiting for my fiancee to return from a school work-trip in Argentina, so I’m also craving some catch-up here. Thank goodness for people and routines that anchor and replenish us.

    • I too find that simple house chores feel like a major source of centering when I’m busy. There’s something about having a tranquil living space that’s immensely important to me!

  13. I’m already bumming about having to go home in three days, but you made me homesick when you talked about your return! I agree…there is a fine line between sticking to your eating lifestyle and being so rigid that you make yourself (and your traveling companions) miserable. It sounds like you’ve found a good balance. Me too!

    Talk soon!

  14. As someone who has just entered the world of Real Work, I really like your idea of making dinner ceremonious even on long days. I’m too prone to mindless snacking in front of my computer…

  15. Great view on meal flexibility and so true, back in my DE days and even early the high-raw vegan days, I was the same way about plan detours. Great wrap up and fabulous in flight meal, sometimes compromises must be made on the road.

  16. Wow what a day and weekend and post…

    Let’s see, you coming a long way re food rigidity, improvising, and working with what’s on hand..way to go!

    Eating in airplane seats…I HATE it! I hate those plastic tray tables; my legs are so long that my knees push them up and my food is always about to spill and then my 4 year old is always about to help spill the food. So yeah, not fun but you’re right, we all have to eat 🙂

    Cute package of nuts, have never heard of that brand before.

    The salad pics, both lettuce and kale, make me want to eat a big salad 🙂

    And I am soooo happy for you that you had time with Chloe, time to recharge your batteries, and time to be gone from home long enough to miss M. That’s cute 🙂

    Hope you two have a great phone chat catchup about your trip.

    And airplane blogging…i did it for the first time last December and omg, a whole new world with onboard wi-fi. I loved every connected second!

  17. Loved reading this. It oozed with gratitude and confidence; I appreciated that you could reflect back on how far you’ve come with your meals. That is a difficult transition, and it’s truly wonderful to have a moment of recognizing how much one has grown! Huzzah for being home again, and long-awaited phone catch ups 😉