I had grand plans to eat super healthfully on our two week Europe trip. It started out well – hummus and avocado sandwiches saved us from airline food on our Eastbound flight (although, European airlines food is 10x better than food on flights back to the US. The difference is staggering.).
In Austria, our choices were somewhat limited, cheese was abundant and often the only alternative to meat. Thankfully, our hotel did have an amazing salad bar with marinated gigante beans that were tasty and filling.
But I’d be lying if I said I only ate healthy salads. I didn’t. I consumed my weight in bread, cheese, chocolate, and best of all, nutella at breakfast. My best Austrian breakfast was two slices of amazing bread – the bread here really just doesn’t compare – one with a little bit of jam, one with a little bit of nutella, and a hard boiled egg. Plus a piece of fruit, if I could find it.
I tried, in vain, to hunt down peanut butter, both in Austria and Turkey, but it doesn’t exist. One of Alex’s cousins didn’t even know what peanut butter was – the horror!! So nutella it had to be.
Alex’s family is very active, so we weren’t just sitting around eating all day. Every morning started beautifully with Alex’s dad leading meditation and yoga on the deck by the lake. We went on two runs that flew by because we were running through this:
Best (or worst, depending) of all, we went on a 25 mile mountain bike ride. Many members of Alex’s family cycle often. I ride my bike 10 minutes to and from the train station each day. I do not own padded bike shorts – it’s not a priority for me. But oh man, I actually considered stopping at a bike shop on the ride to purchase some because it was so painful.
My pain paled in comparison to that of Alex’s sister and mom though. Three miles from the end of the ride, so close!, they crashed into each other and ended up having to go to the hospital – but they both ended up being fine, aside from some bumps, bruises, scratches, one broken bone and one stitch. They were out and about the next day with us – bodies of steel I tell you!
I think that ride alone was enough to balance out the mountains of cheese.
There was also dancing:
And a wonderful farmers’ market, where we bought fruit and pastry galore. For some reason, our hotel wasn’t big on fresh fruit, so this was a treat.
In Turkey, I purposefully booked places with kitchens so we could make food. But I learned that when you’re in a new foreign country for only a week, making your own breakfast and packing a lunch is far less appealing than finding a hole in the wall to enjoy local cuisine. So although I’d love to tell you we were super healthy and frugal, we weren’t – and it was delicious.
Turkish food was also pretty healthy – bread and meze platters with a lot of eggplant, yogurt dips, red pepper dips, etc.Turkish breakfast was also a treat, mainly because of the variety. Bread, cheese, honey, butter, tomatoes, cucumbers, plus a hard boiled egg. And they do fabulous scrambled eggs with peppers and tomato sauce. I need a Turkish cookbook ASAP.
We also ate some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had – and since we only finished half our entrees, we enjoyed them for breakfast the next morning (see, the fridge came in handy!) We later learned that asking for to go containers is sort of rude – oops!
I also brought some Clif Bars that were leftover from Alex’s 4th of July camping trip, and while I’m usually not a fan, they hit the spot during the two long hikes we took, made longer by the sweltering heat.
We did hit up a grocery store when we got there where I got some snacks, which served us well on the way home, when we found ourselves at a tiny airport convenience store looking for dinner. Alex ended up with Pringles and cookies and I got two cups of pineapple. (I have pictures to prove it, but I’m in an airport and the upload is unbearably slow).
I was happy for my bag of almonds! I’ll admit that I snuck a few Pringles though – paprika flavor, which tastes just like BBQ.
I did have one brilliant insight about meal planning though. Before we left, I made and froze veggie burgers and bought some frozen veggies so the nights after we got back and our bodies were trying to figure out the time change and the idea of going to the grocery store was akin to doing an ultramarathon, we’d have tasty homecooked food.
You’ll notice I didn’t take a lot of photos of what we ate. Mostly, that’s because I was just eating it. I haven’t been taking a ton of pictures this week either because after I did make it to the grocery store, I had a random mix of ingredients and not a ton of time or energy. So there were steamed greens and grains, pasta with chard and tomato sauce, and sandwiches. Simple and delicious.
I’m currently in New Orleans and had a yummy homemade lunch – corn and arugula salad from whole foods and a hummus/avocado/olive tapenade/sauteed onion/artichoke heart sandwich on whole wheat sourdough (my favorite non-European bread 😀 )
Navigating NOLA as a vegetarian should be exciting – I have a feeling I’ll have to get creative and make a meal of sides and appetizers – but I’m ready for the challenge!