Tag Archives: food

Suitcase Staples for Plant-Based Diets

To keep the hunger wolves from the door, whenever I travel, I always pack a few essentials – and always confirm that I will have a hot water (coffee) maker in my room and, ideally, a mini bar. You never know where your next plant-based meal is coming from – and if you are working, there isn’t a lot of time to forage (more on that later).

1. Green Tea – After a long day, a cup of green tea, preferably freshly brewed loose, is the best. But a good quality bag tea does just fine in a pinch. And sometimes, that’s the only viable option.

  • Bag tea – my favorite is Kirkland (yes, we’re Costco fans…) about $12 for 100
  • Loose tea – One of my top go-to resources is adagio.com. They sell a huge variety of loose teas and sample packs – little tin boxes that are perfect for travel.  And they also offer a very clever one-cup tea infuser – IngenuTea – that travels well. Fill it with loose tea and hot water, let steep and then put it on top of your cup. A pressure valve releases the steeped tea into your cup. Infuser with 4 samples $19 (great holiday gift, too.) http://www.adagio.com/gifts/holiday_ingenuiTEA.html

2. Miso Soup Packs – Kikkoman makes two that I like – Shiro Miso and Tofu Miso. Just add hot water. They are available in a many supermarkets,, Asian stores, health food stores or by the box 12 for $30 (Costco.com again)

3. Noodle Bowls – if you have room in your luggage, these are easy last minute meals or snacks, but read the labels carefully. they are not all vegan.

  • Nong Shim’s Bowl Noodle Soup with Kimchi flavor is good (about $1.50) and
  • Thai Kitchen makes some bowls ($2+) and bigger “carts” that are more readily available in supermarkets. The noodle bowls that are vegan are: Roasted Garlic, Mushroom, Spring Onion and Hot & sour. All the noodle carts are vegan: Pad Thai, That Peanut, Roasted Garlic, Thai Sesame

4. Nuts – baggies of almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts (yes, they’re high in fat and calories – but it’s good fat with lots of minerals)

5. Instant Oatmeal – a couple packets

6. Dried fruit – including dried cranberries, blueberries, mangoes, unsulphured apricots,, etc.

7. Sesame Seaweed Rice Balls & Seedy Nutty Wafers (Trader Joe’s)

8. Pretzels – crisps and pumpernickel

Hotel Tips for Plant-Eaters

A lot of my travel finds me in hotel rooms with limited room service menus and even more limited restaurants.  I usually have a list of possibilities from HappyCow.com but very often, it’s late and traipsing around unfamiliar territory looking for an obscure address (or a casual dining restaurant that can at least rustle up a baked potato and broccoli) gets very old very fast.

So I always try to travel with some quick fixes that I can eat in the room.  We keep a basket on the kitchen desk to toss in “finds” to pack for the next trip.

The things I am always looking for are easy, lightweight snacks that I can prepare in a hotel room with hot water from the coffee maker (be sure that you swing out the basket other the water will take like coffee – the oils cling to everything). It has to come with its own bowl or work in a hotel cup.

An all-time favorite is Instant Miso Soup – Kikkoman makes several variations that are readily available – usually three to a package.  And they also make a good Wakame Soup as well.

Another good bet are the vegan quick fixes form Thai Kitchen – two with their own bowls are

           Kitchen’s Instant Rice Noodle Soup: Garlic & vegetable and Spring Onion

Rice Noodle Soup Bowls:  Roasted Garlic, Mushroom, Spring Onion, Hot & Sour

Instant oatmeal, is a great standby – but not so necessary any more as most hotel dining rooms will provide real oatmeal. But it’s quick and easy and works in a mug

If the travel distance isn’t too great, I throw in a few extra small container of Hummus – see the earlier post on “Hummus is a Gel” which is a reminder that only small packets will work.

Nuts – almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews – in small packages

Beware: Hummus is a Gel

The only way to insure that we all have enough to eat on planes, is to carry it on.  Not starving is a function of how creatively you can run the security gauntlet with your food intact.

We discovered that security (at least the one in Mobile, AL) sees hummus (and baba ganouj) as potentially dangerous gels – even in the sealed 4 ounce size.  On the way to Mobile, Delta served ham and cheese on thickly buttered bread – so we were determined not to starve on the way home.

Spotting a health food store on the way to the airport, we stopped for a late lunch and loaded up for the trip home. It had taken two days to get there (“weather” delays) and we feared the worst on the trip north.  We can fly to Beijing, Cairo or Dubai with no delays but we can’t get to a wedding in Alabama without serious problems on both legs. So it was with more than some dismay that we saw our unopened containers of hummus, baba ganouj and guac perched forlornly on the top of the X-ray machine.  (And we did end up delayed in Atlanta on the way home – with nary a plant-based snack in sight.)

Solution:  Spread the spreads on wraps and roll ’em up – or stuff pita pockets.  Security doesn’t seem to confiscate sandwiches. And tuck some prepared veggies in your carry on – security doesn’t bother with those either.


Roll-Ups To Go – Plant-based traveling food

Whether it’s a car, plane, boat or train trip, we always pack roll-ups to go. They stay fresher longer than bread sandwiches and they look more festive.  For variety, I stock a few different kinds of “bases” — whole wheat flour tortillas, chapatis, and, my favorite, Toufayan’s big sheets of multi-grain lavash flat bread. Lavash doesn’t get soggy until past edible for other reasons – and it’s only 110 calories each.

The Spreads:  Hummus, sweet potato, curried carrot dip, mustard, tahini, or vegan dijonaise or horseradish mayo (Mix Spectrum’s low-fat canola mayo with Dijon mustard or with bottled horseradish).

The Fillings:  Choose a variety of textures and colors: crunchy, creamy, crisp and soft.  Left over roasted root vegetables, julienned carrot sticks, daikon radish, jicama, fennel, celery, broccoli stems or kohlrabi , cucumber spears (seeds removed, salted & drained), dill pickle sticks, baked tofu rectangles, sauteed tempeh strips,  “bacon-like” analog, romaine lettuce (stem removed or chiffonaded), large leaves of Boston or butter lettuce, par-boiled collard leaves (or raw, finely sliced and massaged with oil and lemon).  Instead of tomatoes, that can escalate the sogginess process, try stirps or whole roasted red peppers (either fresh or jarred – Trader Joe’s sells several varieties that are well-priced.)

The Wrap: Thinly cover all but the outer edge of the wrap with one of the spreads, next layer the romaine, lettuce or collard leaves, then along an outer third of the wrap stack the fillings so that each one runs the width of the wrap – mix a variety of crunch and soft – sticks, strips, chiffonaded greens, etc. Then season with one of the salt-substitutes and lots of freshly ground pepper and perhaps a little freshly ground sea salt. Moisten the filling with a drizzle of the same spread or a different one.  Start rolling the wrap at the filling end.  (If the wrap will “sit” for a long time, consider layering the greens first and then adding the spread.)

Cut the smaller roll-ups in half on a diagonal and the larger ones in fourths; bag each piece separately in a sandwich baggie (or plastic wrap) and roll up the baggie tightly around the wrap. Bag all in a larger freezer bag with a couple napkins inside to absorb the moisture.

“Special Meals” – Really?

When we order an airline’s  “Special Meal,” we always hold our breath as we peel back the foil cover- you just never know what’ll be underneath.  We’ve tried Special Meals on many, many carriers and the results are invariably surprising – good and bad. When we fly an airline that caters to a variety of cultural and religious dietary requirements, we each order different “plant-based” meal categories just to see what we’ll get.  But on most airlines, you’re lucky if you find vegetarian – and if vegan is listed, it often becomes all too clear that someone in the food chain doesn’t know what that means.

On Delta, we were served cold assorted steamed vegetables for a salad and the same steamed vegetables hot for our main course – with canned fruit for dessert. On one of Olympic Airs’ last flights, we were served lovely grilled vegetables flanking three breaded rectangular  logs. We poked and prodded – tempeh? seitan?  We finally tasted it – chicken!  I assumed that China Air would be easy (and I didn’t pack the usual carry on) but my meal turned out to be the local JFK caterer’s take on plant-based – not Chinese.  My tray didn’t look like anyone else’s – and the identical food was served for every meal. Edible but disappointing. After 18 hours, I really wished I had packed more than granola bars.

Emirates, one of our favorite airlines, delivers delicious ethnic plant-based meals – along with a really fabulous entertainment system.  Air Mexico is hit or miss – they do vegetarian fine, but cheese and other dairy seems to sneak into everything.  Shorter domestic flights rarely have a veg option – take the meat and cheese off the well-buttered roll and that’s dinner.

We will start logging our meals more carefully – and taking pictures.  If we all do that, then we might effect a difference.  In the meantime, the more food we can carry-on the better. Coming up- “Strategies for Plane Trips.”

Plant-Based Days-After-Thanksgiving Meals

We are visiting family for the Thanksgiving week-end. The main dinner is “covered” but there are two more days of meals to consider.  My sister and mother are fabulous cooks but the pantry will likely have few of our standard vegan items on the shelves.

So here’s what we’re planning to truck with us (in addition to what we’re planning for dinner – see previous post):

Soy milk – aseptic- packaged

Lentils & Kombu for lentil soup

Broccoli and potatoes for Cream of Broccoli soup

Extra-Firm and Silken Tofu – aseptic-packaged – for dips and dressings

Vegan Dijonaise (Spectrum Low-fat Canola Mayo plus Dijon mustard) – for sandwiches

Baked Tofu – for sandwiches

Tubes of concentrated Vegetable broth (Trader Joe’s)

Prepared White Bean Dip (Costco)

Spiced Carrot Spread


Thanksgiving Road Trip

This year we are heading to my sister's farm in Middleburg, VA – about 5 hours from Rye, NY (on Thanksgiving morning make that 6 hours).  That means a road-tip. Dust off the van (new tires!),  load it with food for the trip and food and wine for the visit, and add my almost 90-year-old mother, and our 30-something son and daughter.

Now for the road trip food. Since we are leaving at 6:30 am, driving through Manhattan to pick up one passenger, and then hitting the GW bridge, we will need breakfast, snacks and beverages.  This is a snacking group – so lots of snacks.


Whole Wheat and Everything bagels fresh from the bakery (picked up on the way). Spread with our own version of veggie cream cheese (Tofutti Cream cheese with chopped fresh herbs, tiny dices of scallions, celery, carrot, cucumber) or with whipped sweet potatoes.

Mini-Crustless Tofu Quiches courtesy of Fat Free Vegan.

Arnold's Whole-Wheat Sandwich Rounds (low-calorie, high-fiber) with almond butter and lo-sugar, fruit only strawberry spread.

Vegan Muffins


Hummus with pretzel crisps and toasted pita wedges.

Nuts! almonds, pecans, walnuts

Trail Mix

Fresh Popcorn – sprinkled with a crunchy salt substitute and/or Old Bay Seasoning


Thermoses of hot coffee and green tea, and a cooler with Water – plain & flavored – and Iced tea

Traveling on a Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet

As a passionate traveler, cruising boater, writer and cook, I find that food always takes center stage.  Searching out local markets, discovering healthy, flexible  restaurants and figuring out how to take enough provisions through security to manage a twelve-hour flight seem to percolate right to the top.

Managing a plant-based diet while traveling can be a job in itself – because we really do love to eat.  When we are cruising on our boat, or a on a charter yacht, at least we have a galley – although finding ingredients in far flung ports can be challenging (that’s half the fun).  But when we’re traveling by car or air and staying in hotels, often on assignment or at a meeting or convention, the challenges once greater are now moderating.  In the decade we’ve been eating plant-based, so much has changed. Plant-based eating has gone mainstream. We will always seek out the top one or two vegan restaurants in a new city or port to experience that chef’s perspective and learn something new – and also to relax with the knowledge that everything on that menu works for us without any questions.  The rest of the time, we generally manage quite well in regular eateries. These days there’s almost always a dish or two on the menu that if not totally plant-based, can usually be slightly modified. And if there isn’t, all we have to do is ask! “Vegetable forward” seems to be the phrase of the day

The problems we’ve encountered, the solutions we’ve devised, the research we’ve done, the food we’ve eaten, the books we’ve read, the documentaries we’ve viewed, the courses we’ve taken and and the adventures we’ve experienced are the main threads of this blog.  Hopefully many readers will share their own adventures – and their solutions as well.