June 27, 2022



Lina Hidalgo has been vegan for 10 years but still finds great food in the city

5 min read

Welcome to How Houston Eats, a food-obsessed series that asks Houston personalities what, where and how they like to eat. Today, Chron speaks with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

Hidalgo, a Democrat, has been the chief executive of the country’s third-largest county, which includes the city of Houston, since 2019. She became the first woman and the first Latina to be elected to that office when she defeated Republican incumbent Ed Emmett in 2018.

The county judge moved to Houston when she was 15. She was born in Colombia and lived in Peru and Mexico City when she was a child, then Thailand after graduating from Stanford University with a degree in political science.

Hidalgo dishes on her pre- and post-run meals, where she finds great vegan food in Houston, and more.

Chron: You’re an avid runner. What is your go-to meal before a marathon or long run?

Lina Hidalgo: I have this smoothie that I love to make with spinach, peanut butter, almond milk and a banana. I recently figured out peanut butter jelly oatmeal, which is actually a great invention. I’ll generally try to have that in the morning. And maybe it’s psychological but I do enjoy the night before doing the carb-loading, just having some pasta or something that is a little bit more decadent.

What about afterwards, is there something you like to eat to reward yourself after a run?

Immediately afterwards, I’ll have a banana or something like that. The past couple of races I’ve gone to Mo’ Better Brews, which opened recently in the Museum District. They have vegan gravy-drenched biscuits, it’s like vegan soul food, it’s so tasty. I generally like to eat something, take a shower and then go to a restaurant and have a really nice hearty meal.

See also  15 margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Houston

How long have you been vegan, and why did you start?

It’s about to be 10 years. If you had asked me growing up whether I would be vegan, it would have been a resounding no. I grew up in Katy and I have a friend, we would save our allowances and every Friday after school we would drive along Westheimer from Katy and just try a new restaurant. You can toss a dart at the list of amazing restaurants we have and not go wrong.

But at some point, I was just finishing college and I had a bad experience with a meat sandwich I bought at the airport. I was like, I don’t really need to have meat unless it’s really nicely cooked, why don’t I just stay away from it until then. And then I realized I didn’t really miss it as much. Then somehow or another I learned about being vegan, and I decided to try it. I felt so much better. My body just reacted better to being vegan.

My grandpa is vegetarian and growing up, I would kind of roll my eyes. Now he and I are the two vegetarians in the family and we’re very proud.

What are your favorite takeout places in Houston when you’re feeling too lazy or too tired to cook?

One of my favorite restaurants in town is Kiran’s, so I order from there even though it’s a treat to even just go there. I’ll make my own fancy dinner at home. Sometimes I get home really late, and there’s some Ethiopian food that’s open late, some Thai food.

What are some other restaurants that you’ve discovered in Houston?

See also  Houston's Evelyn Garcia well-poised to win 'Top Chef'

I love going to the vegan Vietnamese place Quan Yin. I love going to Shiv Sagar, which is Indian food. I wish it was easier to know what non-vegan places have really good vegan options. For example, Uchi turns out to have this amazing vegan menu, including vegan dessert. I’m still learning more about new vegan places that pop up all the time like Mo’ Better Brews.

When you do make time for it, what’s a quick and easy weeknight dish you like to cook for yourself?

I order one of those box services that comes with the ingredients and the instructions. There’s some quick recipes and some more exciting recipes. I generally make something from there. If it’s a dire situation at home, I go for chickpeas, maybe rice, some spinach or shaved Brussel sprouts. I’m not a great cook. I’m very clumsy, I make a mess. I like to try the food while I’m cooking it. If I’m gonna cook it’s gonna be like a project, you know, with someone or listening to a podcast while I do it. But it’s not something that I can whip up and it still tastes good.

Which box service do you get?

I do Purple Carrot, which is a totally vegan subscription box. I try to make it a couple times a week. It doesn’t generally come out as nice as the picture, but it does taste pretty good.

Tell us about the childcare program you encouraged restaurant workers to apply for.

We have funding that is available for folks in all kinds of industries, particularly the service industry, retail, restaurants, even artists. It’s funding that, if folks don’t take advantage of it, it just goes away. When we promoted it a couple of weeks ago, we saw a big spike in the number of folks applying for it and really just making use of it.

See also  Social media reacts to Turkey Leg Hut charging $100 deposit for reservations

Childcare generally speaking is the most impactful public investment we can make. Kids get into less trouble. They end up having higher graduation rates and higher earnings if they have early childhood education. But part of it is not just about the kid and the future of the community, it’s about making sure that parents can pursue whatever they want. If they want to be home with the kids, they can do it. But there are so many parents who want to be able to work and just can’t. And so we want to make sure that we give them that opportunity.

Finally, what snacks are in your hurricane stash?

HEB offers the snacks at TranStar, they just stack up this room full of snacks for all of our staff, which is great because you’ve got these emergency workers day and night, exhausted, and they’re able to find fantastic healthy food. A lot of it I can’t eat, but they always get me these little chocolate chip muffins and little blueberry muffins that are vegan. Oh my god, they’re amazing. It’s like my positive memory from the emergency.

Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.