Just steamed, please

— By Angela Hofstra

“Would you please ask the kitchen to just steam the broccoli and not add butter or salt”.  “That’s how it is done, maam”.  “Really, just steamed?”.  “Yes, ma’am”.  Despite the promising conversation the broccoli was dripped with fat and salt, and didn’t get eaten by me. This is a common conversation between restaurant servers and me. Fortunately, although the servers often look at you oddly, most restaurants, even in the southern U.S., can manage to serve simple steamed vegetables if you ask.  Your colleagues might look at you oddly too, until they realize you are the one not gaining weight while travelling for business.

Fresh vegetables, simply steamed, are my go to “starter” — or appetizer, as we call it in Canada. This is a “survival tip” I learned from a consultant friend who travels extensively, and so “simply steamed” is how I request my vegetables to be cooked when the main course at a restaurant includes a “side”. As an athlete, I want healthy fuel whether I’m at home or away.  As a toxicologist in the agricultural industry, I don’t worry about trace amounts of pesticides; I eat conventionally raised food including things produced via genetic engineered (GMO).  What I do worry about is all the hidden sugar, salt and fat in food when I travel.

Here are some other quick tips I follow when travelling:

  • When away for just one or a two nights in one place, accommodation with cooking facilities isn’t always an option.  A travel set of plastic cutlery and a hotel room with a microwave make the grocery store a viable option for dinner.
  • Vegetables in a microwaveable bag plus some sushi works for me.
  • If no microwave, then a salad.
  • If there’s no grocery store nearby, the bigger drugstores often have food sections including some healthy microwaveable options.

Having solved my dinner woes, if only I could get tea made with boiling water while in the States!