Junketing In Cattle Country

I recently took another road trip to Nebraska.  I celebrated meeting my new great nieces and my great nephew as well as my sister’s birthday over Easter weekend.  I was looking forward to spending time with my family but road trips always involve a frenetic shopping trip to throw together a vegan survival kit and concern over where/what I’m going to eat during vacation.

It turns out I get a little carried away when it comes to vegan survival kits.  I pack for a road trip like I’m worried my family and I will end up in the wilderness somewhere and only my bag of goodies will prevent us from having to eat each other.  This road trip was no exception.  I filled a re-usable shopping bag with vegan options to take with and ended up using a container of chocolate almond milk and two packets of peanut butter.  After more than one road trip under my belt, I’m determined that-next time-I’ll remember moderation is key.

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Chocolate Almond Milk for my coffee and Peanut Butter-Survival Kit Staples

Bosselman’s in Big Springs is regular stop for us when we head into Nebraska.  It’s typical truck stop fare and the salad bar can be a little problematic.  If interested, you can read about a previous stop here.  The night of this particular stop was chilly and a plate of raw veggies didn’t sound appetizing.  A perusal of the menu revealed spaghetti and meatballs.  I questioned our waitress about vegetable side dishes and, while there aren’t any, the waitress was more than willing to scavenge some broccoli from the salad bar, ask the cook to steam it, and toss it with my spaghetti and no meatballs.  The sauce itself didn’t contain meat so I figure I did pretty well.

Pasta Blog
Not bad! Avoid the jar of Parmesan and dinner is served.

Breakfasts on our road trip were partaken of at Perkins.  It’s another place where it’s difficult to be vegan but a solid meal can be put together from the side dish menu.  Oatmeal is only served until 11am so, as we were running a bit late heading toward my sister’s place, I chose fried potatoes (cooked in olive oil-I asked the waitress and she checked with the kitchen 🙂 ), fresh fruit and a dry English muffin with one of my peanut butter packets.

The oatmeal isn’t bad.  I had it for breakfast the day we headed home and, if you ever stop at Perkins, the oatmeal is made with water-not milk.

Perkins Blog

I was able to cook at my sister’s for the remainder of our trip but there was going to be a stop on our way back home.  This ended up being my favorite and the most vegan friendly stop on our trip.  Ruby Tuesday has recently revamped their salad bar and my family and I stopped at the location in North Platte.  The garden bar is a bit pricey-$9.99-and the addition of an avocado is $2.00.  I was tempted but I didn’t need the avocado.  The garden bar is a vegan smorgasbord.  Mixed greens, fresh vegetables, seeds, beans, non-dairy vinaigrette…everything a vegan needs to be happy and healthy.  Considering the freshness of the ingredients and the myriad options, the price didn’t seem stiff at all.

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Why make a second trip when I can just pile my plate really really high?

 

Nebraska is definitely a state where beef is king and yet, it is possible to keep to a vegan diet without feeling deprived.  I look forward to the next one, especially with four adorable babies to visit.

In the Land of $9 Salads

I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post, how I feel a pang at paying $9 for a salad but, when you’re a vegan traveling through beef country; beggars cannot be choosers.

My family and I just took a quick trip to Nebraska.  My niece graduated from Northeastern Community College’s Vet Tech program and I wanted to be there.  I am still recovering financially from the Utah trip but my niece has worked so very hard to complete her schooling, she scored a prestigious internship, and I did not want to miss her special day.

As always, I overprepared for the roadtrip.  I packed the back of the car with two bags of groceries and a cooler, just in case I couldn’t find anything to eat anywhere in Nebraska.  But, fail to plan-plan to fail as the wise say.

We began our trip soon after my getting home from work on Thursday and planned to spend our first night in North Platte.  Thus, our first meal stop was Grandma Max’s in Big Springs.

My mother and I had perused the online menu before heading out and Grandma Max’s is NOT vegan friendly.  It looked like I could order a plain baked potato and a salad from the side menu and Grandma Max’s does have a salad bar so there were, at least, vegan options.

I ran an eye over the salad bar while waiting to be seated and was both impressed and depressed.  The lettuce and vegetables were wonderfully fresh but there were no beans, all the dressings were dairy based, and half the salad bar consisted of salads that contained dairy or eggs or both.  Even the peas had been made into a salad containing eggs, cheese, and bacon (the humanity!).  The hot side of the buffet had nothing a vegan could eat beyond white rice.  Still, there were enough veggies I could get by and it seemed there were black beans somewhere in the restaurant because they were listed in the description of the taco salad under the Side Dish listings.  I asked if I could get a side of black beans with my salad bar and the waitress was happy to comply.  My salad bar cost me a dollar less because I wasn’t doing the hot side.  My cost?  You guessed it.  $9.00.

The side of black beans ended up being more of a relish.  I got a little plastic cup filled with black beans, corn, and peppers and it made a nice topper for my plate of lettuce and veggies.  As I couldn’t eat any of the dressings (even the Italian was creamy), I asked for extra lemon wedges.  I read in one of Julianna Hever’s posts that she squeezes fresh lemon juice over a salad in place of dressings and here was my change to try it.

The verdict?  It was quite good!  As I said, the veggies were wonderfully fresh and crisp, something that can be hit or miss at truck stops.  The lemon juice was tangy on the vegetables and my black bean relish added a hint of grilled flavor.  All in all, I was very pleased with my vegan dinner at Grandma Max’s.

My meal ticked several of my diet boxes.  It was mostly raw and completely oil free.  It did take a long time to eat though and I can’t thank my family enough for their patience.  A plate of roughage takes a long time to chew through at the best of times and I’ve become rather aware of chewing since reading my book on macrobiotics.  I always thought I chewed my food well enough: it wasn’t like I inhaled food off my plate and swallowed it whole but, since beginning to study macrobiotics,  I’ve tried to slow down and thoroughly chew my food.  The result has been interesting.  There are several things I can’t eat anymore because they become disgusting as they’re chewed but, oddly enough, I taste the sweetness in vegetables as I focus on chewing them.

My point being, if you find yourself at Grandma Max’s, chewing your way through a plate of raw veggies touched with a squeeze of fresh lemon, prepare your traveling companions for the time it will take.  Or, maybe order the baked potato.

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My $9.00 Salad!