Hoffman's Houston
vegging out

Ken Hoffman on the 30-day healthy challenge every Houstonian should try

Hoffman on the 30-day healthy challenge every Houstonian should try

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The VegOut campaign challenges you to eat 30 veggies in 30 days.  Photo by Joel Luks

Last week, I accepted a dare to take the VegOut Challenge. This is going to be easy. I’ve sort of made a career of doing as little as possible.

I was tricked! It wasn't what I thought. The challenge meant I had to eat vegetables — at least once a day for 30 days. The idea is to raise awareness of childhood obesity. Locally, Houston do-gooder Grace Cavnar's organization, Recipe for Success, has all the information you need to get involved. 

My problem is, the places where I eat tend not to serve vegetables, unless you count French fries as a vegetable. I’m guessing that the VegOut Challenge isn’t okay with an extra large order of McDonald’s fries at 3 am.

So, I went to the iconic cafeteria famous for its vegetables around here — Luby’s. True fact: I’ve lived in Houston for about 30 years, this was my first visit to Luby’s. I ordered the LuAnn Platter with Chicken Fried Steak and two sides.

First, I asked my Veg Out sponsor if macaroni and cheese qualified as a vegetable. I was looking for loopholes. Told no, I went with corn and mashed potatoes. Plus apple pie and a Diet Coke. And a chocolate chip cookie for later. Luby's chocolate chip cookies are mostly chocolate chips. They're practically a Hershey Bar.

The Luann Platter comes with a half-portion of specific entrees, plus two sides and bread. There are 78 Luby’s restaurants, 77 in Texas, one in Jackson, Mississippi. The Luby’s company also owns Fuddrucker’s, which isn’t exactly a vegetarian restaurant. Among the most popular hot vegetables at any given time at Luby’s: green beans, corn, spinach, yams, okra, collard greens, cabbage, zucchini, squash, eggplant, kale, mashed potatoes, carrots, and peas.

Luby's is named for its founder Robert Luby who opened his first restaurant in San Antonio in 1947. Although the Luann Platter is one of the most popular items on Luby's menu, nobody at Luby's home office in Houston knows how the Luann got its name. That's weird.

Five days into the Veg Out Challenge, I’m still good on my one-a-day vegetables. But I am scratching the days on my bedroom wall like a prisoner waiting for his sentence to end.