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.

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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.

The Go-To Restaurant

My family seems to find go-to restaurants on the trips we take together.  As none of my family are vegan, the places don’t always have a great deal of vegan options but there’s always something and the staff at these places bend over backwards to help me out.  The go-to restaurant on our Utah trip was Denny’s.  On our Nebraska trip, it was Perkins.

I used to frequent Perkins a great deal when I was in high school.  I remember meeting there with my thespian friends and indulging in Perkins’ baked goods.  I don’t indulge in the baked goods anymore.  Instead, I scour the menu looking for something that doesn’t contain eggs, meat, or dairy.

I didn’t find many but Perkins does serve oatmeal (made with water-I asked) for breakfast and the side menu is fairly extensive.  I had the oatmeal at the Perkins in North Platte: our waiter was willing to leave off the milk and the raisins and brown sugar were served on the side so I could decide how sweet I wanted my breakfast: something I appreciate.

Our next meal at Perkins was dinner in Kearney, NE.  It had been a long drive, we were tired, and our waiter was so nice.  Dr. McDougall would be thrilled with my meal: I ordered the baked potato plain-no butter-the steamed broccoli, and fresh fruit.  I reiterated no butter on the broccoli and and everything arrived butter-less.  The jacket of the potato didn’t look or taste like it had been buttered during the baking process.  I cut the potato into chucks, scooped my broccoli over the top, and added salt and pepper.  It sounds dry but it wasn’t.  The steamed broccoli was still a bit crisp and wonderfully flavorful.  The fresh fruit was a dish of  (a) grape, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon: a sweet finish to my meal.

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Don’t let its looks fool you-it’s tasty.

It’s an odd thing to not add a bean or other vegan “protein” to a meal.  It’s taken me years to be comfortable with the thought that all plants contain protein and that a meal of nothing but vegetables can be both filling and nutritious.  This meal was completely filling and yet not heavy.  I was comfortable but not stuffed when I went to bed.  My experience was so pleasant, I didn’t quibble when my Mother suggested Perkins for breakfast the next morning.

The next morning was Valentine’s Day and Perkins was PACKED.  No worries.  I was prepared.  I had a couple packets of peanut butter (a staple in my vegan survival kits) and planned to order dry toast and the oatmeal.  That is, until the waitress told me they were out of oatmeal.  Did I panic?  I think not.  I had my peanut butter, after all.  But then, my mother suggested I go to the car and get a packet of the instant oatmeal I’d purchased before beginning the road trip.  I felt a little weird about bringing an entire breakfast in for myself but the waitress said if I wanted to go get a packet, she’d be happy to prepare it for me.

Talk about service!  I retrieved a packet of blueberry-chia-quinoa oatmeal and the waitress was true to her word.  She cooked it up and served it in one of Perkins’ square plates.  She even brought me raisins just in case I wanted them.  Did I?! I am ever so grateful to her for being so kind.

My trip to Nebraska was definitely an adventure.  I’m never sure what I’m going to find in restaurants food-wise but I always find the nicest, most accommodating staff.  My thanks to everyone I met during this quick trip and especially the staff at the Kearney Perkins.