Monday, October 25, 2010

Traveling, Part One

Last week I took a three day business trip. I have stated in my piece “I am a Practical Real Food Person” that I would not stress out about processed foods that I come in contact with outside the home. I don’t travel excessively, so uber-processed foods do not make up even a significant minority of the foods I eat. But as I also stated in “The Downside of Eating Clean”, traditional foods in the SAD (Standard American Diet) have been upsetting my stomach recently. So I admit it, I have to give up them up. French fries or other items fried in polyunsaturated oils (vegetable oils) in particular are the worst offenders. So I set up a goal for myself, travel away from home for three days, and eat real food the whole time. Here is how I did.

Leg One: New Orleans

I arrived at La Guardia at 6:30am with nothing but a cup of coffee in my belly. My first challenge, get breakfast at an airport. This was kind of challenging. I went to CIBO Express because they had cold items much like a grocery store. I knew that any “breakfast sandwiches” would have meat of questionable quality and the rolls would all be white flour-heatburn for sure. So at CIBO I found a container of Greek Yogurt and some fresh strawberries. I also got a liter of water and some nuts for the day to snack on. There was a large selection of yogurts including traditional yogurt and several Greek varieties. My biggest issues: all the traditional varieties and all but one of the Greek varieties all had some type of added sugar. And sadly the only plain yogurt was completely fat free. I don’t get that. If you eat a fat free breakfast, how do you expect to make It until lunch? You will be starving in 2 hours because fat keeps you full. I ate the berries and yogurt but was starving when I got off the plane.

One the plane I said no to the peanuts and pretzels (didn’t they stop serving peanuts on planes due to allergy concerns?) but I did ask for a cup of coffee. When she gave me the cream for my coffee, I didn’t read the label before I plunked it in my coffee. *Gasp* It was non-dairy creamer, or as it should be called, milk -flavored-partially-hydrogenated-water. Great, 2 hours in and I have already consumed my first non-food.

Lunch was at a little Mexican place that was similar to Chipotle only locally owned and not part of a big chain. I chose a salad with what was called Chicken “Tinga” which was chicken in an oily red sauce. There was definitely veg oil in there. The salad was all iceberg lettuce, which I rarely ever see in New York anymore. But there were good slow cooked pinto beans, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream. There were probably stabilizers in the sour cream. But it was full fat, so likely it was less processed…likely…. My trepidation with this lunch was the fried flour tortilla “bowl”. I knew it would be fried in veg oil. I started out convincing myself that I wouldn’t eat it. But quickly I realized that I was way too hungry. So I ate it.
My colleague and I had a little snack at about 4pm. It would be a cultural crime to say no to this…

But there is a lot of questionable food here. Refined powdered sugar, refined and probably enriched white flour, copious amounts of vegetable oil. Almost nothing about this snack is acceptable in my mind. But, hey, this is New Orleans. And if you can’t enjoy life by experiencing the local culture while you are traveling, then what the heck are you living for? Besides my colleague had never been to New Orleans before and I thought it was important that she go to Café Du Mond.

Dinner was amazing and still very New Orleans. We dined at a place in the French Quarter called Galatoire’s. I am pleased to say that this place was all real food. And it was authentic, and decadent. Everything was amazing. We tried the turtle soup (I have had better), and dinner was Crabmeat Sardou, which was a beautiful pool of freshly creamed spinach topped with a house poached artichoke heart topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and smothered in hollandaise. Don’t you just love the French Paradox? I was completely happy with this meal. And so was my tummy.

Leg Two: Dallas

The following morning my colleague and I were off to Dallas. I was a little smarter this time around. When I ordered coffee at the airport I saw that there were only little creamer cups of half and half. But the H & H also contained 5 different stabilizers and preservatives. I asked the woman behind the counter if she had any milk and she provided me with a bottle of 2% milk. Nice! I also ordered scrambled eggs. I passed on all the breads and baked goods and sugar as well as the highly processed bacon and sausage, which they had tray after tray of. The eggs tasted real (as opposed to powdered) and I swear I saw butter in the bottom of my bowl. That’s a good sign. They definitely aren’t grass fed, but overall it was a decent choice.

We had lunch in a little chain café and I had an amazing salad of romaine lettuce, goat cheese, fresh apples and dried apples, thinly sliced red onion and these candied slivered almonds that were just ridiculous. I know there was sugar on the dried apples, in the dressing and on the candied almonds. The salad had a very sweet taste to it, so there you go, another day eating refined sugar. It wasn’t obvious from reading the menu that there would be so much sugar.

I had an apple for a snack and then went to dinner with a colleague. She took me to a great place called Bolsa, which tends toward organic and market fresh ingredients (they even say so in their menu. After an amazing bruchetta tasting (white flour in the bread) I had a ridiculous dish of scallops and potatoes bathed in a pool of cream and onion and fresh corn. It was ridiculous, and all real food! Dessert however, was another story: Raspberry Croissant Bread pudding with a sour plum sauce. Not overly processed, but it did have sugar and white flour. If you live anywhere near Dallas, please do yourself a favor and go to this restaurant. The night was about 75 degrees with a light breeze, so sitting outside made the food and the company all the better.
Only problem, I really overate. Everything was seriously good!

Tomorrow, I wrap up my trip in Houston and I draw spome conclusions about traveling and eating, which is always hard for me.


  1. I think traveling and eating is hard for a lot of us! Sounds like you did pretty darn good so far! I always start out on a trip telling myself that I'm going to be really good, but I always fall of the wagon the first place I go to eat!

  2. Crabmeat Sardou!? That looks awesome. We should give it a try!-DH