It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! Honestly, South By SouthWest gets me super giddy and excited more than Christmas or my birthday. Many locals and Austinites curse the day that SX was born, but I frolic in the revelry that is 200,000 plus people descending upon my hometown bringing a creative energy and innovative vibe that is unrivaled, in my opinion. SXSW is THE festival of the year. Craving new, amazing music? Done. Want to meet fascinating people from all walks of life? Done. Solar powered merry- go-round? Done. Free ice cream? Done. Jack White Pop Up Show? Done. Bill Murray bartending at Shangri-La? Done. President Obama keynote? About to be done.
The only part of SX that has gotten me in my early years was sleep deprivation, over-intoxication and greasy, unhealthy food indulgence. I would often go all day and all night and wake up early to do it all over again. Now that I’m older and wiser (and rarely drink), I’ve created a plan to keep me ready to go for the entirety of the festival. Usually, I’ll just gear up to do the music portion, which lasts five days, but this year, I’m hosting a film crew who is world premiering their short at our beautiful festival, so I’ll be non-stop for 11 days and I would love for you to join me.
Here are 11 ways to get your healthy on during the most wonderful time of the year:
1. Juice It UP
This is an easy way to get a nice, robust boost to your whole body and mind in the morning or afternoon. If you live here and you have a blender or juicer, invest in a big ass bottle of unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice. Wheatsville, HEB, Whole Foods all have their own version of this. Then buy a ton of organic greens like spinach, kale, celery, cucumbers, parsley. Add carrots, beets, ginger, some coconut oil, chia seeds and blend it with ice. Boom. Healthy greens, first thing. Trust me your body will thank you. If you’re from out of town, go to Juiceland and get the Tigerlily or Applelily. You can have them add some good stuff too.
2. Turmeric Tea
Turmeric is my go-to feel good herb. My momma gave this to my poppa early in his Alzheimer’s disease, as its an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. It’s been used for 4,000 plus years and comes from the ginger family. It comes in root form or powder and functions as well as 800 mg of ibuprofen. I often tell my athletic friends to drink a jar of this turmeric tea post-workout. That means instead of killing your kidneys by taking ibuprofen after your all-night drinking binge, you can make this and feel even better! So here it is: boil some filtered water, add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, squeeze a half lemon, a couple drops of honey and a dash of black pepper, to activate the turmeric. Put over ice or drink as a warm tea and feel the anti-inflammatory goodness fill you up.
3. Shots! Shots! Shots! Of Water
Buy a cool glass or metal water bottle and carry it all around town. Or drink ‘shots’ of water after each alcoholic beverage. This is actually Bill Murray’s hangover prevention tool. He taught it to me. Seriously. Right after he served me a Tito’s press at Shangri-la followed by a shot of water. Okay, maybe not. A girl can dream, can’t she?
Our bodies are 70-75% water, this means if you overwhelm your system with crap in the form of food, drinks or drugs, then it has a hard time balancing and operating optimally. Plus it makes your skin look fabulous. Ideally, what I tell my patients is to drink 1/2 their body weight in ounces of water daily. Deal? Trust me, your stamina will go through the roof if you follow this one. And stamina and SX go hand in hand.
4. Eat at Casa De Luz
According to my very reliable source, this plant-based, macrobiotic mecca was started by a certain MaryAnn who lived in Clarksville and fed her low-income neighbors wholesome, vegetarian food for health before it was a trend. This in fact is kind of one of my dreams, by the way, but it’s going to be on the East side instead. It eventually turned into a restaurant that is run by volunteers and only serves the healthiest of foods and beverages. For a fixed price of $12 you can make your cells sing and get an energy-infusing meal right in the heart of Barton Springs. It’s also a good place to connect and incorporate community into your SX, as if there wasn’t enough already. The entire area around CDL is pretty magical, I guess you’ll just have to make a visit.
5. Eat at Soup Peddler
These folks know what they’re doing when it comes to souping and juicing. I believe they have four locations now, two South, one off Airport and a north location. The green goddess and veggie chili are my usual go-to soups. You can actually feel the nutrients steep into your body with each slurp. They also have bagged bone broth, which I recommend getting and drinking in addition to your morning coffee every morning of SX, if you’re not vegetarian. The folks here are also farm-to-soup/juice enthusiasts and try to integrate local farmers food into their menu as much as possible.
6. Eat at Thai Fresh
Jam has been my jam since her farmers market days. She has cooked up some of the best thai food I’ve had and I love that she’s always tried to use local farmers meat and produce. Thai Fresh has ‘Clean’ options that they will curate just for your anti-inflammatory mojo and delicious deserts and ice cream that range from vegan to gluten- free to sugar-free. Like anywhere else you can indulge, but I stick to their papaya salad, kale salad, chicken rice, glass noodles with extra veggies or one of their delicious curries.
7. Eat at Whip-In
There are so many places I’m grateful for learning about early on, but this is probably my favorite. I’ve always dug the vibe of the Whip-In and the people who go there are truly the coolest of the cool. It’s deeply rooted in community, which is my beloved, so perhaps that is why I’ve held it in such high esteem. I love that I can get kombucha on tap and not feel out of place. They too use organic, sustainable, local produce, meats and products like Slow Burn queso, freaking YUM!! I typically get the rice bowl or the special depending on the number of veggies involved. Go eat here, but don’t tell anyone about it. Thanks.
8. Eat At Ingredients
Another cool place to snag a cold kombucha and some yummy healthy food is Ingredients. It’s a zero packaging grocery store that also makes a bunch of their own salads and dishes. Their vegan ‘chicken’ salad is amazing as is their kale salad. They have bites like dolmas and empanadas and then a whole local produce section in the back that you can use to create your own food. Picnic tables galore among a beautiful garden make this place a go-to if its gorgeous out.
9. Eat At Hightower
I have a special place in my heart for Hightower. Maybe its because I see the head chef at my farmers market and I see where my food comes from. I’m also an East Sider, which means that this restaurant is my neighborhood bar and grill. Though the quality of the cuisine is quite high-end in my opinion, you won’t blow your SX budget dining here. It’s one of my favorite farm to table restaurants in Austin and my go-to menu items include seasonal veggies like brussel sprouts in PB, roasted broccoli, blistered green beans, fried chickpeas. They also have amazing mahi-mahi ceviche and smoked redfish that is to die for. Yes, these may sound a bit decadent, but if done right in the perfect fill-you 80% full sizes and you pace yourself practicing mindful eating (which I always recommend), you’ll be just fine and your belly will be so very happy.
10. Climb Some Rocks
Austin Bouldering Project is kind of a dream come true for anyone who grew up climbing rocks. A day pass gets you access to the gym, yoga classes, and bouldering and will put you back a mere $16. Shoes are free to borrow on your first visit. I live down the block from the gym, so my day will likely start with some climbing, a sauna session and maybe some yoga, if I can get there early enough. They’re super nice folks and the community is rad. It’s a nice escape from all the downtown madness with just as much fun and creative energy.
11. Sleepy Tea and Lavender Oil/Bath
Tiny Taiga is a sweet little ‘heal goods and soul treats’ store on e. 11th street that I recommend checking out. I was given some of their muscle relaxing, super-stressed mind tea as a gift for V-day and whoa, does it relax the hell out of you. Drinking their tea plus rubbing some lavender oil on the bottoms of your feet and into your pillow will allow you to get a goodnight’s rest so you can go all day and all night all over again. Or if you wanna get really crazy, try a lavender oil bath and soak your weary bones after a day of drinking, walking, talking, eating and dancing.
Obviously there is a theme here. Lots and Lots and LOTS of veggies. Plant-based foods keep you the healthiest of healthy. Yes, you can have your Micklethwait deliciousness and East Side King pork belly at some point during the madness, but our bodies and mind need the nutrient dense, powerhouse foods to stay gold and stay SX. Veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes provide a foundation on which your body works at its best. Plus it helps clear up your skin, gets your bowels moving like a champ, boosts your energy improves sleep, improves thinking, and you’ll have better sex!
So why not go to the best places in Austin to get them prepared just perfectly for your picky, Whiskey loving palate?
OH!! And one plus I learned this weekend during my Ayurveda class. Travel often causes your digestion to slow down and sometimes things stop moving. If you want an easy, effective way to get them going again get a bite of ginger, a piece of rock salt and a squeeze of lime and eat it. You should feel your intestines talking soon after. Gut health and good digestion are keys to optimal health, trust me.
Some other things you can do to keep healthy: pace yourself, find time to meditate or go still, you’ll boost your optimal brain and body power with just five minutes of mindful silence and breathing. No FOMO allowed (increases stress hormone, leading to immune system suppression and acne), set your intention, release expectations and just have fun. Oh and laugh, laugh as much as possible. Go see a comedy show, a funny new film, or sit with people who help put those belly muscles to work.
My intention: to hear incredible, unknown music, to connect to amazing, interesting, funny humans, eat from all of my favorite places and pack a lunch or two, to laugh, have as much fun as possible and go with the freedom flow. That is all.
Hope this helps as you go along your beautiful SXSW journey. Happy SX!!