Part 1: Traveling Vegan | DC/Virginia/West Virginia

First Leg Virginia/DC

A trip with my boyfriend back to his hometown of Virginia and to his parent’s current location in West Virginia has become a new tradition that I’ve happily added into my annual holiday festivities.

Last year was my first adventure to a state far different than my own. I was able to experience new surroundings with new individuals–both family and friends– who welcomed me like I was one of their own. I couldn’t have been more thankful. 

Now another year has crept along and I was once again graciously invited back to spend the holidays with his family and to enjoy some time with his friends. This time, we changed it up and added a day trip to DC before heading into West Virginia.

I also brought with me NEW products and snacks! Each trip I take is unique and each trip deserves its own attention to detail when it comes to what I bring. Yes, there are some consistencies, but for the most part there will always be something new in my luggage–it not only keeps it interesting, but it keeps me on my toes in exploring what’s out there.

My Traveling Vegan Snacks

Navitas Naturals 3 berry trail mix and maca cashews for hearty, nutritious sustenance
Teeccino delicious caffeine free coffee alternative
My girl Bites of Luv oatmeal cookies for that sweet tooth
Beanfield’s Chips for the salty crunch
Four Sigmatic chaga tea packets to boost my immunity while traveling and
Thrive Magazine for reading material.

A big bonus when traveling somewhere rural; limited WIFI access. This led me to “unplug” from social media.

Not completely, but a good start. 

It allowed me to engage more with family, friends, and my surroundings. As much as I appreciate social media for what it does and how it connects individuals, brands and communities, it’s nice to take breaks when you can. Being present is important and it’s an essential part in staying grounded. 

With that said, let the adventure begin!

The first part of my Traveling Vegan experience began at Wolfgang Puck’s Express restaurant in Terminal 7. I had my snacks accounted for as well as my reading material, but I was running late and needed to make do with the food options in the terminal. 
I walked around a few times, assessed my options (fried, fried and more fried) before settling on Wolfgang Puck’s Express. I spoke with the chef before ordering to see if it was a possibility to veganize a breakfast dish. I wanted a simple dish that would consist mainly of veggies–basically an omelet sans eggs, cheese and butter. A mushroom and spinach sauté with a side of toast would do. Simple, right? Chef said no problem, but it apparently took three attempts to get it right.
First-it had eggs, second- it had cheese, third-butter on the toast. 
Finally attempt four proved to be the winner. 

It did the trick and I was off!

The morning after landing I awoke to what was the bone chilling East Coast weather. It was cold, but it was wonderful. I was starting my vacation across the country and I couldn’t have been more excited. I decided to take in my surroundings–the morning stillness you rarely come across in Los Angeles– and enjoy the cold by sitting on the porch with a hot cup of Chaga tea by Four Sigmatic. 

I’ll get back to the tea in a moment, but I first want to showcase my Traveling Vegan Essentials for this trip.

Some of my favorite items (including a few new ones) I brought with me ended up being life savers. This year I knew not to overload my luggage with food items because, as I learned from last year’s trip, his mother is a cooking genius. She has every vegan ingredient in her pantry, makes phenomenal homemade vegan food and has a commercial size dehydrator perfect for making delicious kale chips. 

My Traveling Vegan Items

Flora Udo’s Omega 3-6-9 Blend - It has recently come to my attention that I need to up my Omega levels. I find that crazy to learn. My diet consists of plenty of seeds, nuts, leafy greens and oils, BUT due to long term digestion issues, I apparently do not absorb as much nutrients as I should. Through years of trial and error, I am constantly learning more and more about my body and what works and doesn’t work. Either way, having more Omegas’ is never a bad thing as it is an essential fatty acid necessary for healthy skin, heart and memory functions. For vegans looking for a complete Omega that does not contain fish your choices are fairly minimal. I am a fan of Ora Organics for their potent Omega 3 spray, but for a blend I’ve recently been leaning on Udo’s. My only negative is their use of soy. I’m hoping in the future a soy-free option will become available. Now that Udo’s creates capsules, it’s easier for traveling. 

Enzymedica Digest Gold - Ohhh digestive enzymes where do I begin! Your body can not always break down all the complex enzymes in certain foods, notably when it comes to cruciferous vegetables, beans (fiber), nuts (proteins), glutens and sugars. Most vegan meals have some or all of these components present. This can lead to bloating, indigestion, lack of absorption and flatulence. I already have suboptimal digestion so I know keeping these on hand are essential ESPECIALLY while I’m traveling. No consistency and lots of leniency during the holidays…Yup, enzymes are a go.

Sovereign Silver First Aid Gel - Prior I only packed this item for international travel, but I recently realized; why? It’s a great product used for multiple reasons. As well, this company creates Colloidal Silver that is a must when I travel international. It’s a great immunity booster used since the 1800’s.

Original Sprout Miracle Detangler - Lately my hair has been unmanageable when it comes to knots; truly a pain. I already have the adult size at home, but while traveling I like to take miniatures if possible. I was fortunate enough to find this little guy, before my trip, while I was doing my travel ritual–meandering Whole Foods aisles. It was the perfect size.

Four Sigmatic Chaga Tea - Everyone around me is getting sick, is sick or just was sick. I was not going to allow this to happen to me on my trip. Nope Nope Nope! I have leaned on mushroom supplements for years as I have personally felt and seen the magical benefits (see my recent write up “What have you done for your immunity lately.”) Recently, I stumbled upon the tea version. For someone who loves hot tea, I wanted to try this version. The taste is great (earthy, yet mild) and I believed it saved me from getting sick. I’m currently still drinking it daily.

Acure Day Cream - In general Acure has fantastic, natural products. I love their face SPF, shampoos, conditioners, detangler and creams. This particular day cream truly moisturizers while still being lightweight. It contains incredible properties like Gotu Kola Stem Cells to protect against radical and environmental damage. Added bonus; it smells divine.

Borage Therapy Hand Cream - During my Whole Foods meandering I found this wild card. My skin has been uber dry lately and I hate the feeling of cracked skin ESPECIALLY while traveling to an even colder climate so my goal was to find a truly moisturizing, natural lotion. This is an item that’s been on my list for a while and Borage proved to be a blessing in disguise. The minute I got back to LA, I purchased the mondo sized bottle.

Death by Lavender Deodorant - As I evolve, so does my choice in deodorants. It’s one of those necessary evils–personal to each individual. I grew up wearing the hardcore, aluminum based deodorants that stocked every shelf, everywhere. Mitchum, Dove (don’t be fooled by advertising, Dove still contains enough aluminum to clog the pores) and Secret. Over the years I’ve been experimenting with all non-aluminum based deodorants including; Crystal, Tea Tree, Tom’s, Schmidt’s (fantastic if you are not sensitive to baking soda), Lafes (still using) and Pit Paste. Currently I was looking for a mild, non-irritating, yet actively hard working deodorant that also provided a gentle scent. Death by Lavender has all of the above and I’ve been using it since my trip. Depending on the occasion, I still like to switch it up.

Nature’s Gate Toothpaste - For years I’ve been using a slew of their products, but the toothpaste is the one I’m most attached too. If I can’t find a Tom’s of Maine travel size, I’ll just bring along my regular sized non-gmo, fluoride-free, sulfate-free, very minty Nature’s Gate toothpaste!

So there you have it! My list of traveling essentials for my West Virginia/Virginia/Washington trip.

DC for the day, here we come!

Washington DC Edition

I’ve been to DC briefly once before. A super quick trip years ago that only allowed for historical sightseeing.  
This time, I had two things on my list; the Smithsonian (just one of the museums within the Smithsonian umbrella would do) and a vegan restaurant. 

You’ll be happy to know, both happened.

The minute my beau, his best friend and his best friend’s wife stepped of the metro we immediately saw a row of food trucks. Funny enough we were already heading to lunch (I was given the opportunity to choose), but as you know from my previous posts, once you see vegan food while traveling, you try it…and report back of course!  

And what food truck do you think was smack dab right in front of me? 

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Woodland’s Vegan Bistro! I tried not to run. I casually, yet excitedly moseyed on over. The rest begrudgingly followed suit not understanding the vegan food bloggers excitement. I knew I had to control myself in front of company so I only ordered a side of homemade mac and cheese to-go.

It almost doesn’t seem fair to judge a restaurant by a single, DIFFICULT vegan dish, but I had faith and they did not let me down! 

The cheese was fluffy, savory and mouthwateringly delicious and the pasta cooked perfectly. I was sold! But most importantly, it sold the non-vegans in tow. It was the perfect traveling dish to wet our DC appetite for the next spot I had chosen–Busboys and Poets. A little backstory. When I had researched what ONE restaurant to chose for our DC lunch, I had thought Busboys and Poets was a single, non-franchised location.  Upon arriving in DC, I found there were multiples. Not many, but more than one. I was slightly disappointed…until we arrived at the restaurant. 

For a chain, it still felt unique. It exuded the vibes I was looking for and the menu was rampant with options. 

I wanted to try something fresh, green and savory.

I ordered the Vegan Cobb Salad with arugula, crispy tofu, tempeh, avocado, tomatoes, cashews and hemp vinaigrette. 
It was refreshing, light, but flavorful and layered with texture. I loved it. As well, my dining guests loved their options.
It was a solid choice and a positive check mark for the vegan from California choosing the restaurant.  

After lunch we hit up the Spy Museum-a must if you are in DC looking for something fun and interesting to do. We had a blast!

-There’s always been a special place in my heart for Aston Martin’s-

The time had also finally come for me to step foot in the Smithsonian Art Museum. We took our time meandering about, enjoying ourselves and even sat in the indoor patio to celebrate both our friend’s anniversary and ours.

Day 1 vacation was euphorically in the books and Day 2 was waiting patiently for the West Virginia adventure to begin.