So in my last blog, I vowed to go vegetarian in New Orleans for two weeks to counteract all of my Thanksgiving and football food extravagance … so how did I do?

Well … I did okay. And it definitely gave me some perspective … which is what's so great about any kind of situation where you abstain from something for a certain time period. It gives some usually much-needed perspective.

From the get-go, when my friends or family heard that I was going the vegetarian route for a few weeks, their first response across the board was, " … so Brian is out of town?"

And yes, my husband, who could probably exclusively eat just meat and only meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and be perfectly happy (save for maybe some Captain Cruch Berries every once in awhile), was going out of town for two weeks for work. This did make my vegetarian experiment much easier, though in all fairness to him, he would support any kind of decision I made to make myself healthier or happier. He would just never stop eating bacon burgers from Rally's in solidarity. And whenever I tell him that I'm going to start making him daily green smoothies, I get this reaction:


So needless to say, it's just easier to start a health regimen on my own. But the circumstances have to be right … and my mind has to be in the right place. I suppose when I started out on this journey of vegetarianism, I wasn't thinking about just how much the holiday season revolves around food. There are cookies everywhere and a whole aisle dedicated to holiday candy when you walk into any store. And there are holiday-flavored sugary coffee drinks in every café. So while I can say I'm not going to eat any meat, it's not like I'm being at all healthy if I'm still partaking in all these holiday sweets, which some might argue is actually worse for you.

And this is what the first week looked like: vegetarian junk food. It was like when I was in college, I didn't eat meat for years, but my diet consisted of a whole lot of Easy Mac and cereal. And Veggie Sticks. Damn, those things are addicting. Veggie Sticks and Pirate Booty. Easy Mac and Peanut Butter Captain Crunch… I wasn't exactly being a health nut. And then I cheated, a little. I went out to Maurapas Foods with my friends and got a dish of roasted pumpkin and fried oysters because if pumpkin is somewhere on a menu I can't NOT get it. And I justified it in my head: oysters are not really meat. It's seafood! Even the pope would agree on Fridays! But yeah, it was still cheating.

During the second week, I knew I had to get my act together, and except for on my birthday when my friends took me out for tapas (the "arancini" at Bootys and "goat cheese croquettes at Mimi's), I did a pretty good job of it. 

I made my green smoothies which, even if you do nothing else different, if you have a green smoothie everyday I totally believe you will feel great. It usually consists of some banana, frozen berries, bee pollen and some spinach all blended together in a blender with a bit of water. I promise, you can't taste the spinach, but you will enjoy all the nutrients. There are a million different ways to make green smoothies (just Google "green smoothie") and the ingredients can get all kinds of crazy. Some people even add seaweed, hemp oil, etc. I usually keep it simple. They make you feel goooooood.

I also went exploring around my neighborhood to see what healthy gems I could find. Here are a few:

The New Orleans Food Co-Op in the New Orleans Healing Center on St. Claude Avenue. It's a little health-food store that sells a lot of locally-sourced goods and the Healing Center is like a little mall of wellness.

Satsuma Café on Dauphine Street. They also have one located on Maple Street. There are always healthy options on their menu, but if your dining companion wants something a little meatier, they have those options as well. They also have some cool juice concoctions, so if you want to channel your inner Jack LaLanne but don't want to juice at home (which can be a bit of a mess), you can get a nice glass of fresh healthy nutrients and enzymes at Satsuma.

The Wandering Buddha at the High Ho Lounge on St. Claude. Korean vegan food … but you'd never know it unless they told you it was vegan. Everything on the menu is great. And they have pumpkin spice ice cream! (made with coconut milk!). Seriously, you had me at "pumpkin".

Pizza Delicious on Piety. They have a permanent space now! And they always have vegetarian options for their pizza and usually have vegan cookies … you can even order slices of vegan cheese pizza. Also, the garlic knots are great for a splurge and you get a whole bunch of them for a good price. Just don't plan on kissing anyone for awhile unless your partner has some, too.

Pho King at Lost Love Lounge on Dauphine. Oh my gawd, the Tamarind Fried Tofu Bun. So. Good. There are quite a few healthy options on the menu as well as a nice pork bahn mi for when you want a nice meaty "vietnamese po boy".

So this is but a few places around the Marigny/Bywater neighborhood that features healthier options on their menus, and these are my favorites, but I'm sure there are many more all over the city. If you have a favorite healthy joint in New Orleans or any suggestions, please let me know in the comments! I'm not planning on worrying too much for the rest of the holidays, but after New Years I'm thinking that I'll be taking my two-week experiment to new heights.

Happy holiday eating, everyone!