Friday, August 17, 2012

Planning

Indian River
Good morning! Hope everyone's day is off to a great start, TGIF! The above pic is from my morning walk with Loki, that's the view from the end of our campground, Manatee Hammock.  Pretty nice, huh? My favorite part of this "gypsy" lifestyle is being able to escape Suburbia and soak up nature for a while.


Manatee Hammock, Titusville, FL


Another thing I love is trying out new restaurants. Even though we have a nice kitchen in our RV, we usually eat out one meal a day, either lunch or dinner.  Since I've become vegan this has been more challenging but I've learned a few tricks & tips to make dining out more enjoyable for myself and my omnivore hubby.

First, I use the Happy Cow app on my phone to determine if there are any veg-friendly restaurants in the area.  Then I peruse Trip Advisor to read reviews, narrow down the selections and then look up the restaurant menu if available.  If there's no online menu and I can't determine the "friendliness" of the establishment, I may give them a call and inquire about vegetarian options.  With all of this info in hand, we then head out to eat.  It sounds like a bit of work but honestly, doing the research is kinda fun and it helps avoid a potential miserable dining experience.  For example, I once ended up at a seafood restaurant where I was sure I could find something veggie and tasty on the menu.  Nope, not so much. I ended up eating a plain salad and a dinner roll. Not a satisfying dining experience, believe me! That was the first and last time I allowed myself to be in that situation. From then on, I learned to plan ahead.

Here's another thing I've learned: Don't be shy! If you don't see any vegetarian options on the menu, ask the waiter! Sometimes they'll have veggie burgers and just don't add them to their regular menu, and/or are willing to make you up something special. I've actually seen waiter's eyes light up as they suggest creative dishes based upon their available menu items.  I've had some delicious meals and like to think that in the process I might have encouraged the restaurant to provide more veggie items.  After dining, I always go home and write a FB note or email to the restaurant, either (politely) asking for veg choices or thanking them for providing them. I've received great feedback and hope that I inspired the chefs and managers to think outside the box just a bit.

Because my birthday is around the corner, I've been receiving coupons from various restaurants we've frequented in the past, most of them before I went vegan. Last night we decided to use one of those offers at a primarily seafood place, Rusty's.  I looked at the menu ahead of time, found nothing vegetarian at all; even the salads included seafood and to remove them would leave me a pile of plain lettuce. Not fun. However, I knew enough to glance at the side dish section and voila! A serving of pasta & sauce + side salad + small loaf of bread = perfectly nice meal! The only mistake I made was not realizing the pasta would have parmesan already on top, ooops! No big deal, though; as I said, I'm not aiming for perfection, just doing my very best.

An improvised Italian meal
As I mentioned, my sweetie is an omnivore, one who consumes a bit too much fried junk, and he'll readily admit it. Since we've been together he's eating healthier and has discovered there are indeed some vegetables he likes, but he's not yet willing to give up his beloved steak & ham. It's ok, baby steps..one day he may get there. Since I don't believe in dictating how others should eat, I leave him alone for the most part. I don't nag him about his diet (well, hardly ever) and he doesn't tease me about mine. We have a mixed relationship of sorts, and manage to coexist quite nicely.

Chip enjoying a steak w/onion rings & garlic mashed potatoes


Today we are headed north to our other home in Ormond Beach, my kids will all be joining us there to celebrate my birthday weekend. Yes, I get a whole weekend, not just one day. I'm a Leo, after all. *wink* We're going to have a wonderful time, so looking forward to wrapping my arms around my peeps! Since food is always part of any good celebration, I'm sure I'll have lots to share.

Have a wonderful day!

Michele~




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