two salads, one bowl

One week remaining in the super healthy reset month, a.k.a. #healthyoctober, Sobetober, Octsober, and still going strong!  It hasn’t been easy!!!  In fact, the hardest part has been the sobriety, mostly because of the ubiquity of alcohol in my new locale/work environment.  So instead, I’ve been drinking a cocktail of willpower, stubbornness, and fear of failure, which has allowed me to maintain a clean sheet.  Hurray for questionable motives!

What’s that?  What have I been eating?  Well, as I mentioned in my previous post, it ain’t home cookin’.  But what the New York lifestyle lacks in homemade, it makes up for tenfold in a cornucopia of options online and delivered in seconds.  And healthy is trendy, so you better believe there are restaurants catering to whole-food, raw-food, gluten-free, local, organic, fair-trade, über-vegan, level five.  And yet, my staple has been, shock of shocks, a salad.  But not just any salad!  A custom salad conjured up by mouse click with all the fix-ins a person with a primarily plant-based diet is proud to call his own.

My new employer, Yext, provides two free meals per day (yes, we’re hiring) when ordered on Seamless, a magical service that delivers pretty much any kind of food at pretty much any hour to your doorstep.  (And if you live in New York, and you hadn’t heard of Seamless…you’re welcome.  Also, you really should get out more.)  Many restaurants allow you to “build your own salad,” where you can choose the leaves and various other toppings.  My usual is something like kale/spinach, beans, grape tomato, red onion, Portobello mushroom, avocado, and tofu, with some modifications here and there depending on what the place offers.  I always get the large salads, but they’re just not big enough.  So…I order two.  Because of the pricing structure of the “build your own salad” offerings, and because variety is the spice of life (and basically required when you eat salad every day!), I build two completely different salads.  And then, well, I think you know what happens next…

Using the old Coke can technique measuring stick for size reference.

So a bowl of salad walks into a bar…

a new city, a new bowl

Been quite a while indeed since my last post. And much has transpired: I moved to New York!! As with traveling, moving breaks the routine and destroys the environment I create for myself to make it easier to eat healthy. Add to that the fact that I was a temp-housing/hotel-hopping/couch-surfing transient for over five months, and the fact that I’m a night owl with a penchant for exploration in the city that never sleeps…well, let’s just say sticking to the routine I had in Seattle was an uphill battle.

Now armed with a permanent mailing address and a renewed energy, I have decided to figure out a new strategy that will work in New York. Much of my approach to eating healthy in Seattle was to cook and eat at home. But in New York, I’m more likely to use my oven for storing winter clothes than roasting broccoli.  So to jumpstart the process of figuring out how I’m going to make the healthy eating thing work in my new locale, I am doing a super healthy October. For me, that means this: no meat, no fish, no dairy, no animal-based proteins of any kind, no bread/enriched white flour, no sugar, no soft drinks, no alcohol.

People have been asking “why?” and “isn’t that a bit excessive?” I don’t expect that to stick — it’s just a tactic I use. For me, overcorrecting and then dialing it back is a lot more effective than trying to take small steps in the direction I want to go.

Well, so far, so good. Except for trace amounts I can’t control and one careless dip of a grape tomato into a tiny bit of pesto (I forgot it has parmesan in it!), I’m pitching a perfect game one week into the challenge. And, yes, this does mean a lot of salads. You know what they say: a new city, a new bowl.

A New City, A New Bowl

grain bowl in a new bowl

I got a new bowl! So I decided to test it out by making a grain bowl. Grain bowls are nice because the grain is warm.  If you also leave the other ingredients out for a bit and let them come to room temperature, you’ll get a warm, satisfying meal that hasn’t had a bunch of the nutrients zapped out by cooking.  Here’s what it’s in it…

Your favorite bowl :-)
12oz cooked of healthy grain, e.g. TruRoots Sprouted Rice & Quinoa Blend
8oz spinach
4 roma tomatoes
2 persian cucumbers
1 haas avocado
2 full sheets nori
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup walnuts
A pinch of salt and pepper


  1. Cook the grain (I just use a rice cooker)
  2. Rough chop tomatoes, cucumbers, and 1/2 of the avocado (save other half for dressing)
  3. Slice nori into short, thin strips
  4. Dressing: put other half of avocado, apple cider vinegar, soy milk, and pinch of salt and pepper into a food processor or similar contraption and blend/chop until smooth
  5. Chop/crush walnuts (not too small, though)


  1. Put grain in first
  2. Then the spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado chunks
  3. Sprinkle on the nori
  4. Add the dressing
  5. Top with walnuts

Oh, and this bowl is pretty big, too :-)

With a Coke  for size reference — of course I didn’t drink it!  :-)


bowl or hat?

A couple weeks ago, a friend from work who has witnessed the comically large salads first-hand told me, “Hey man – I know how big that salad bowl is, but not everyone can fully appreciate it.  Maybe you should post some pics to illustrate the point.”

So here are a couple pics.

With a Coke — but of course I didn’t drink it!  :-)

Bowl or Hat?

comically large salads at work

Lucky for me, Microsoft has a solid salad bar in the cafeteria.  And the salads are charged by the pound with a max price equivalent to the price of one pound even the salad is much heavier.  So every day I stuff as many vegetables as will fit into the requisite to-go box.

The size of my salads has become a running joke among my colleagues.  Here are a couple of pics of my salad from Monday.  First pic is of the salad in the to-go box.  But the to-go box is a flimsy and unsatisfying salad vessel, so I like to transfer it to my beloved wooden bowl from IKEA, and the second pic is post-transfer.



a flog is born

Since going on this ultra-healthy eating kick, people ask me, “so if you’re pretty much not eating meat, or fish, or dairy…what DO you eat?”

Short answer: I eat to maximize nutrients per calorie, which means a LOT of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Long answer…


  • Comically large salads
  • Vegetable soups/stews/chilis (I usually make one on the weekend big enough to last several days)
  • Grain bowls with LOTS of vegetables
  • Fruits, nuts, and seeds, mainly as snacks/desserts
  • Fish, on occasion
  • Meat of any kind, only when I’m out
  • Dairy, pretty much never
  • Processed foods – extremely low amounts

In general, I’ll eat vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds of all kinds. Here are some foods making more frequent appearances.

  • Vegetables: cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage), green leafy (spinach, chard), yellow/orange (carrot, squash, sweet potato)
  • Fruits: lots of berries (especially blue and straw), citrus fruits, apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocados
  • Beans/legumes: black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, soy beans, lentils
  • Nuts/seeds: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds
  • Grains: quinoa, buckwheat, barley, farro, wheat berry, brown rice, steel cut oats

But, where do you get your protein? Turns out, vegetables, beans, and even some whole grains are pretty high in protein too…

Comically Large Salads
As an example, today I had a ginormous salad with spinach, cucumber, tomato, and avocado. Typically, I’d throw some red onion in there, but I was out. But, I did have extra avocado, so I made a dressing: avocado, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro. Here are a couple pics of the salad pre- and post- dressing. The bowl is LARGE – that’s a pint glass next to it for scale. If that doesn’t convince you of its enormity, here are the amounts of the contents: half a pound of spinach, 1 whole English cucumber (they are quite large), 1 lb. grape tomatoes, and 2 medium avocados (1 cubed in the salad, and 1 for the dressing). Elaine would appreciate the big salad.



For 10 days, I kept a food log. I wrote down EVERYTHING I consumed, except water (good, bad, and ugly). It is not doctored in any way, and it is complete. If you notice a meal missing, it’s because I chose to skip it because I wasn’t hungry. Now for some caveats… This 10-day stretch includes a trip to visit friends and family in California, which necessarily means going out and eating stuff that’s not so nutritious (e.g. Del Taco). I didn’t eat any grain bowls, and I ate a lot less fruit than usual. You’ll see even during the week after returning home from the trip, I’ll have the occasional peanut butter cup or handful of pretzels. And there’s a fair amount of alcohol in there, which goes completely in the wrong direction when it comes to maximizing nutrition per calorie. But by and large, I do my best to increase vegetables, fruits, etc. and reduce processed foods, meat, and dairy.

Date Time Meal Food
11-Sep 7:45 AM breakfast 16oz steel cut oats and raisins
11-Sep 11:00 AM snack 4 clementine oranges
11-Sep 12:00 PM lunch 2lbs of salad/veggie items: broccoli, cauliflower, roasted mushrooms, sesame green beans, roasted tofu marinated in sweet chili/soy sauce, cabbage stir fry w/ celery, onion carrot, wheat farro salad w/ corn, tomato, peppers, onions, cucumbers, cilantro, lime juice, salt, greek salad w/ kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, bean salad w/ red beans, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers, lime juice
11-Sep 3:00 PM snack handful of pretzels
11-Sep 5:30 PM snack handful of almonds
11-Sep 8:30 PM dinner santa fe chickin (no meat) and tortilla soup at veggie grill
11-Sep 9:30 PM drinks 2 bourbons
12-Sep 9:00 AM breakfast banana
12-Sep 11:00 AM snack 3.5 oz trail mix: peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, MnM-like candies
12-Sep 1:30 PM lunch 2lbs of salad: mixed greens, green beans, lentils, beets, bean salad, spinach, farro salad, cauliflower, broccoli, marinated mushrooms, roasted eggplant
12-Sep 4:30 PM snack handful of pretzels
12-Sep 6:00 PM snack handful of pretzels
12-Sep 7:00 PM snack handful of pretzels
12-Sep 10:00 PM dinner pint of almond milk and a large bowl of veggie chili: garbanzos, black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, corn, kale, garlic, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow carrots
13-Sep 11:00 AM breakfast vegan box lunch: indian garbanzo bean and grain salad, baggie of baby carrots, an orange, vegan brownie, peanut butter/chocolate lara bar
13-Sep 1:00 PM lunch vegan box lunch: indian garbanzo bean and grain salad, baggie of baby carrots, an orange, vegan brownie, cherry pie lara bar
13-Sep 7:00 PM dinner large bowl of veggie chili: garbanzos, black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, corn, kale, garlic, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow carrots
14-Sep 6:30 AM breakfast fruit cup at airport: strawberries, blueberries, grapes, cantaloupe, pineapple
14-Sep 8:00 AM snack couple of tea biscuits and a small glass of bloody mary mix
14-Sep 1:45 PM snack 2 tiny baggies of peanuts
14-Sep 2:15 PM lunch 2 tilapia filets, with pasta, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a beer
14-Sep 9:00 PM dinner korean food family style: kalbi beef spare ribs, kimchi fried rice, spicy rice cakes, soju, mango flavored soju, and a beer
15-Sep 1:00 AM drinks 1 beer
15-Sep 3:00 AM snack del taco: 2 chicken soft tacos, 2 classic beef tacos
15-Sep 10:00 AM breakfast fruit cup: strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew
15-Sep 12:30 PM lunch spinach salad at corner bakery
15-Sep 2:00 PM snack tiny carrot cake sample at veggie grill
15-Sep 3:30 PM dinner veggie borscht a little black bread, and some cold smoked steelhead salmon
15-Sep 5:00 PM drinks 2 cognacs
15-Sep 8:00 PM snack banana
15-Sep 10:00 PM drinks half bottle of cabernet, glass of dessert wine, and a beer
15-Sep 10:00 PM snack 3 pieces of cold smoked steelhead salmon
16-Sep 3:00 PM lunch veggie chili and a beer
16-Sep 7:00 PM dinner 2 pieces of bread and butter, 2 oysters, 1 fried green tomato slice with mozzarella, chilean sea bass, broccolini, brussels sprouts, sugar snap peas with mushrooms, corn, and 2 glasses if white wine
16-Sep 8:00 PM dessert a little bit of pineapple upside down cake and blackberry cobbler and a chamomile tea
16-Sep 10:30 PM snack small bowl of veggie chili and a banana
17-Sep 6:30 PM breakfast fruit cup at starbucks: cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, grapes, strawberries
17-Sep 8:00 AM breakfast scrambled eggs, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and provolone cheese on a toasted flatbread on plane
17-Aug 12:30 PM lunch 2.5lb salad: spinach, bean salad, broccoli, beets, brussels sprouts, indian tofu curry, indian lentils, indian chana masala
17-Aug 11:00 PM snack 3 pieces of cold smoked mackerel
18-Sep 10:00 AM breakfast 3.5 oz trail mix: peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, MnM-like candies
18-Sep 3:00 PM snack 1 reese’s peanut butter cup
18-Sep 6:00 PM snack 1 beer, 1 beef skewer, 1 small piece of prosciutto flatbread, 1 small piece of veggie flatbread
18-Sep 7:00 PM drink 1 bourbon
18-Sep 9:15 PM snack 1 mandarin orange
19-Sep 8:30 AM breakfast 1 banana
19-Sep 11:30 AM lunch 2 lbs. salad
19-Sep 1:30 PM snack veggie burger patty
19-Sep 3:00 PM snack 1 beef rib, 1 pork rib, 1 chicken thigh, tiny piece of cornbread, half a beer
19-Sep 7:00 PM snack some pistachios and a banana
19-Sep 10:00 PM dinner large bowl of veggie soup and a mandarin orange
19-Sep 11:00 PM snack large bowl of strawberries
20-Sep 8:00 AM breakfast 1 banana and a handful of pistachios
20-Sep 10:30 AM snack 3.5 oz trail mix: peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, MnM-like candies
20-Sep 12:00 PM lunch 2 lbs. of salad
20-Sep 4:00 PM snack a few handfuls of pretzels
20-Sep 6:00 PM snack a few handfuls of pretzels

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