"Since CrossFit is so popular in Miami, it's almost as if the CrossFit community had been waiting for this."
Food trucks are a way of life for many Miami residents. Serving everything from tacos to barbecue, the easy-access, mobile fast food is ubiquitous in the city.
Breaking from the mold of traditional food trucks, Miami-based CrossFitter Miguel Kristaly founded the Health Nut on Wheels food truck. In 2010, Kristaly, 40, started getting into CrossFit and also enjoyed competing in endurance races.
“At the race and competition venues, though, I noticed there was nothing really healthy to eat,” he says. “Many of the races were catered by local restaurants like Pollo Tropical. But, eating rice (and) beans with chicken pumped full of nitrates and antibiotics did not sound like a pleasant, post-competition meal. And forget about the athletes. I thought, ‘What about the spectators, fans, family and volunteers?’ These were athletic events, there should be healthy food and there was not. Then … an idea!”
A local contractor at the time, Kristaly says his business was suffering due to the downturn in the real-estate industry, and he felt like it was a perfect time to begin a new business.
CrossFit athletes and spectators at a local competition in Miami were the first taste testers.
“Not knowing what the heck we were doing, the Health Nut was asked to cater the food for Summercrush, and the rest is history,” Kristlay says. “My calculations and expectations for the amount of food we needed to feed the people who wanted to try it were blown away and I knew I had hit a nerve within the CrossFit community.”
After the competition, Kristaly decided he needed a food truck to take his show on the road. He found a 2001 Chevy P42 through a food-truck company in Miami, investing $85,000 in the restaurant on wheels. Since, Health Nut has been part of countless events in town, including CrossFit Seminars, affiliate grand-openings, box throwdowns, fundraisers, Iron Man and Spartan races. He also services parking lots and businesses for the daily lunch rush.
“Since CrossFit is so popular in Miami, it’s almost as if the CrossFit community had been waiting for this. And another neat part about having the truck is having the unique opportunity to introduce clean eating and CrossFit to the general community at large,” Kristaly says. “I love it when people say, ‘Yeah, but veggies really taste terrible,’ and then I tell them to give it a try.”
Kristaly prepares fresh veggies — asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, squash and a rainbow of bell peppers — with coconut oil, a dash of sea salt, crushed black pepper and fresh parsley. He also prepares a side salad of lettuce, kale or spinach, with tomato and avocado, plus choice of protein: grass-fed sirloin patty, pastured, homemade turkey burger, wild salmon, grass-fed bison sliders or pastured chicken breast. He calls it the “Paleo Dish.”
“Before discovering the Health Nut, I ate a ton of pizza and fried foods, sugary things and nearly no veggies. Pretty horrid,” local CrossFitter, Nelson Dellis, says. “Now, I have lunch delivered to me daily from the Health Nut … My favorite dish is the stuffed red pepper with picadillo and veggies.”
“The bottom line: Healthy food can be delicious. Too many people feel that eating healthy means egg whites, boiled chicken breast with no seasoning, rice cakes and brown rice,” Kristaly says.
Other popular menu items include homemade sweet potato fries and fresh fruit smoothies.
On top of driving to various locations throughout Miami nearly every day, Kristaly also launched a catering service last August, designed especially for local CrossFit boxes.
“We’re cooking up to 70 meals a day and delivering to about eight CrossFit boxes throughout South Florida, as well as places of business and residences,” he says. “The catering is really beginning to take off.”
Kristaly starts prepping at 6:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, to cook meals with his team of chefs and caterers. By 10 a.m., he is out the door to deliver the meals to local boxes and other customers. The afternoons and evenings consist of paperwork, food orders and housekeeping for the business, before picking up his two boys from school and hitting his own box, I Am CrossFit, at 4 p.m.
And the fun doesn’t stop on the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays are usually jam packed with taking his food truck around town to various events and venues to give Miamians a taste of health.
“My CrossFit time keeps me grounded and sane in a crazy, busy world. It’s like releasing the pressures of life every day during my WOD. When I (workout), I can’t think of anything other than breathing and completing my next rep,” Kristaly says.
“I’m just so grateful I have been able to provide delicious food to an incredible community of amazing athletes and people in general. I truly enjoy sharing my passion every day with everyone and look forward to continuing to affect people’s lives in a positive way through nutrition. To top it off, the Health Nut may open an actual restaurant place in 2013. That’s right, a small place of its own where anyone can go every day to eat their favorite food,” he adds.
Until then, he’ll be trucking along.