Finding Vegetables in Houston

I travel a lot.

My job demands extensive travel so I spend a lot of time on airplanes, at hotels and Airbnbs, and in boardrooms.  Recently I have repeatedly found myself in the American south east which, coming from an island on the Canadian west coast predominately populated by wealthy hippies, is more alien than many parts of Europe and Asia.  At home, on Vancouver Island, I am a fairly healthy person.  My diet revolves around vegetables and pulses, I eat red meat less than once a month, walk everywhere and engaged in active hobbies, like backpacking, snowshoeing, rock climbing, and boxing.

The food in the American south is always a shock to my body.  The first plate of biscuits and gravy is a divine treat, the next plate of beans and rice is tasty, and the third piece of pizza or fried chicken makes me yearn for a big lentil salad.  After a week, my body feels sluggish and lethargic, and my brain is fuzzy and lazy.  When I get home, I have to haul myself out of the rut.  I sometimes feel like I’m stuck in an unintentional yo-yo dieting pattern, on steroids.

Needless to say, this is a damaging pattern to which I have been considering solutions.  There are some aspects I can solve, and some I can not.  I often find myself in unsafe communities or industrial areas, where walking is not a viable mode of transportation and going for a run is out.  Lunch is provided at the whim of my hosts; it is usually a heavy example of local cuisine.  Breakfast is often provided by the hotel in the form of a continental breakfast, and all options are saturated in sugar, salt, and highly processed fats.

So what’s left?

I spent the past week in Houston, Texas, in an Airbnb. I was able to purchase delicious food for breakfast (cereal, yogurt, and fruit) and cook quick and easy dinners centered around vegetables.  The success of the cooking did depend on finding recipes and ideas that were both engaging and would completely consume ingredients.  I selected variants on elaborate salads that contained protein and healthy fats, such as The Big Vegan Bowl or Popeye Protein Bowls and went out of my way to find fresh, appealing ingredients from a local grocery store.  The lunches were still heavy, but very enjoyable when sandwiched between light, healthy meals.   I even squeezed in a decent workout halfway through the week, featuring running stairs and hundred of lunges.

Overall, less effort was required than anticipated.  I needed to do one quick grocery shop and had enough foresight to plan for meals that only took 30 – 40 minutes to prepare – less time than going out to a decent restaurant and significantly cheaper.  I am starting to list the simple recipes that I found effective in my bullet journal for future reference and anticipate developing a selection of easy, self-contained meals that use simple ingredients.  I found the travel less stressful, my mind clearer, and my body more energetic.  There is still much room for improvement and refinement, and it is certainly a system that merits exploration.

Thus concludes my goal for January: write a post every week.  In February, I will continue writing every week, and will focus in on specific styles, such as instructional, recipes, lists, and stories.


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