Let me be the first to reassure you that we absolutely did indulge in New York pizza and the best donuts I’ve ever eaten during our stay in NYC (see the bottom of this post for those little delights).
That being said, I was determined to find healthy food to eat while we were in NYC, especially for Mackenzie, so I was always on the lookout for nutritious, cost-effective meals. Here are some discoveries I made:
- Get a hotel room with a fridge. We filled ours with fruit and hummus (ok, and some fancy cheese Scott has been wanting to try for over a year), and it helped to have that to fall back on when we came back to the hotel before nap and bedtime.
- Realize the complimentary breakfast may not be a sure bet. The first morning I found a lone packet of plain instant oatmeal there, and we always snagged some bananas but otherwise it was a total wash. Sugary cereal, waffle mix, shady pastries, Tang disguised as orange juice… nothing was healthy or worth the calories so I had to be prepared for a hungry toddler in the mornings who couldn’t wait until we got into the city to eat. Note that we stayed in a Country Inn & Suites, not a dive.
- Find a bakery that makes whole grain breads. We were thrilled with Amy’s Bread and always had a loaf and a couple of rolls for munchies. Now that I see their ingredient lists, it looks like some weren’t 100% whole grain. Bummer, but seriously yummy and much better than the alternatives we found.
- Local hummus. I wandered into a Gourmet Garage and was thrilled to find they had their own hummus without any oil added, that was the same price I pay here in Columbus. Score! This plus whole grain bread was an excellent fallback meal.
- Farmer’s Market. On Friday Scott looked up a great Farmer’s Market in Union Square where we found cool varieties of apples, bought a 1/2 gallon of pear cider (ingredient: pears), and sipped a big cup of hot spiced grape juice (such a good idea!).
- Go ethnic. We went to a Tibetan restaurant near NYU called Tsampa and their vegetarian menu was extensive. My dish, translated, meant “14 different vegetables with rice”. I requested brown rice, and next time I would request “easy on the sauce” but other than that it was a fantastic meal. If it wasn’t our last night there, I would have asked for another order to go and put it in our hotel fridge!
- Pack snacks. We brought some dried fruit and Larabars from home. Even though Scott bemoaned the idea of bringing food on vacation when we left, both he and Mackenzie ended up being extremely grateful that I had them. Mackenzie doesn’t snack very often, but if the time gets away from us or we end up stuck in a place without food around mealtime her fuse can be pretty short. When this happened in NYC, a Larabar pulled out of the diaper bag kept her happy until we were ready to eat.
- Keep your eye out for soups. Hale & Hearty have a dozen soup shops in Manhattan and I just got their everyday tuscan white bean and spinach soup, though the ten veggie soup also sounded great. Filling, pretty inexpensive lunch with plenty of good veggies in there.
None of the above are rocket science, but it was a relief to come back from a trip and feel good about what I ate and fed my daughter. For me, it’s all about balance. I’ll definitely indulge but if I’m going to really enjoy a dinner of decadent pizza, I need to eat well the rest day. Otherwise I feel… bleh.
On that note, our favorite NYC indulgences:
John’s Pizza near Time’s Square. No slices, but great ambiance and unbeatable deliciousness.
Bleeker Street Pizza – The best slices.
Donut Plant – The only donuts worth eating, now that I’ve tasted them. They’re made from scratch, on site, with no trans fats or artificial ingredients and they’re outstanding. My favorites were the creme brulee (a yeast donut) and the cranberry cake.