FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!

It’s been tempting on my first ever visit to America to over indulge! I mean some of the cities we’ve been to are offering outstanding food and drink options on every corner! It’s been a revelation to see the lack of fast-food (Maccas, BK, Kentucky fried…etc) joints and the amazing healthy, unique, independent and passionate cafes, restaurants, bars etc. wherever we go.  We are not on a food and drinking holiday, sadly, but we know good stuff when we see it and as people who love food and drink, our little sensors are on ‘overdrive’ as we walk through the streets of San Fran, Seattle, Vancouver & Vancouver Island, & finally, Toronto.

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All these great food establishments are amazing, but it’s whilst transiting that you can come unstuck because at airports, train stations, bus stations or ferries etc. you are suddenly hungry and all those wonderful food and drink places you spotted in down-town Seattle don’t exist. The major transport hubs only bring in the big boys, so you are stuck with Starbucks, MacDonalds and other major fast food chains. 

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We’ve started carrying our own food and snacks to counteract these things and below are a few of our rules:

  • Carry apple cider vinegar with you and have it every morning in your water (start your day with a bit of alkaline – it’s like hot water and lemon!).  We carry apple cider vinegar in our suitcase and have it every day.  It alkalises your body, is great for your immune system and helps metabolise fat.  We’ve been using it for two years now and we’ve not been sick in a long time!

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  • Buy raw nuts and carry them with you in containers for snacks.  Raw nuts are full of fibre and natural fats – they are filling and you can’t over-indulge on raw almonds (now roasted cashews are a different matter, we avoid them).

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  • Snacks are fruit, nuts or healthy food bars. You can pretty much buy apples, bananas and pears anywhere and even if you buy all three and eat all three during the day, you’re still way ahead on the health-on-the road trip!  It took me a while, but we’ve finally found a healthy snack bar in the states called the ‘Lara Bar’ (thanks Lara). Out of the 1000 muesli bars on offer, even all the ones which are screaming, “Organic, healthy, full of fibre, no gluten, no dairy, sustainable, wholegrains, wholefoods blah, blah”, this is the only one that I would deem healthy! Our favourite has two ingredients: Cashews and Dates, nothing else! Their slogan is: Just the stuff that matters! www.larabar.com   This girl has done good! Lara the founder, that is, and her bars are the least ‘sexy’ in the store.  There is no fancy packaging or slogans, but they taste fantastic and have maximum 2 to 5 ingredients – real ingredients. 

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  • Do not touch the food on the aeroplane: some of the things we’ve been served on flights cannot really be described as food, but they’ve served you a meal, it’s free and they can tick that box! There is nothing nutritional at all in those dinner/lunch or brekkie plates and the salt, fat and sugar content is probably your recommended quota for the year! Just reading the ingredients on the yoghurts sends my blood sugar soaring!
  • Eat organic eggs every day if possible – stick to the plan, poached eggs on toast with greens on the side.  Fills you up, when sugary cereals never will.  We don’t deviate, just stick to the plan. Eggs are eggs, yes organic and grain fed are the best, but poached eggs on toast is a great option when you only have pancakes, cereals, croissants, muffins, & chocolate pastries to choose from. 
  • We carry a jar of tahini with us! Tahini with banana on toast, bread or just tahini and banana is our go-to for breakfast or a snack.  Tahini is a healthy alternative to peanut butter, marg etc. and it’s easy to carry around.
  • Cook as many meals as you can. Save eating out for a special meal.  Go out for a few cocktails/locally brewed beers, but eat at home or get healthy take out.

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Below are a few our favourite places on the road!

We found a great new fast food spot in Seattle called Evergreens, www.evergreens-salad.com

Basically it’s fast food but a salad bar!  Choose from ‘Blazin Asian Salad’, ‘My skinny Greek salad’, ‘Walk the Flank’, ‘Spicy Kale Ceasar’ etc.  They build you a customised salad with fresh, quality ingredients and no added flavours, sugars or preservatives.  All the ingredients are sourced locally, wherever possible, and you can add a few little extras like whole grain chips and bread.  Dressings, which are sugar free, are all offered on the side and you have a choice of dressings to suit your taste. 

We ordered two huge quinoa salad bowls with wild caught local salmon, kale, spinach, walnuts, tomatoes, cucumber and goat’s cheese dressing.  After a cocktail and a beer at a local tap house (they had 160 beers on tap!!!), this was perfect for dinner back at the hotel room!  It looks like they are currently only in Seattle, but I think this funky chain will catch on. 

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Ask the locals where to find healthy food and drinks: when we were in San Fran, we asked the trainers at TRX where to go for a really healthy brunch/lunch.  Bluebarn, www.bluebarngourmet.com, was the recommendation from Alison (thank you!).  The first time we went, the queue was out of the door, so we left and went across the road for a coffee and shared a $9 cheese and tomato sandwich!!! The second time we tried, we got in and WOW!.  I don’t know how they do it, but the choices are amazing.  They are a neighbourhood deli dedicated to quality food in both flavour and harvest.  Everything is made from scratch and so they tell you that there may be a wait, no one seems to care, because the place is packed! The idea is that you choose you’re ‘greens’ (of course I’m in heaven, a place that takes Greens seriously) and then your house-made dressing.  After that you’ve got 30 things to choose from to add to your salads, including proteins such as chicken, fish or steak. 

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Laura in Seattle from the Sweatbox yoga studio also sent us to a great spot for brunch called The Juice box, www.juiceboxseattle.com, who specialise in juices but also love their food. They don’t believe in bread, but they have a gluten free homemade focaccia if you really want some. We had scrambled eggs on greens with homemade focaccia and turmeric laden juices.  I asked for salt and pepper and they said, try it first and let us know if you need it: we did not!

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On Vancouver Island we ended up at Spinnaker, a recommendation by family, who took us there.  They are a Brewpub and taphouse which serve food produced by local suppliers. They’ve been around since the 1980’s and they are special. The service, food, beer and atmosphere were outstanding.  www.spinnakers.com The walk home was challenging….Pale Ale…..6%…..i think it was called ‘Wobbly Ale’, or something similar!

One of the things about this part of the States is that the beer is strong and wine is divine! If you drink Corona, there must be something wrong with you! Firstly it’s 4%, so why bother and secondly, it has no flavour, so why bother! This is the home of microbreweries and there is one on every corner, making beer which starts at around 5% and continues upwards from there: having a 7% pint of beer is normal! Of course, the difference is, you only have 1 or two, not 10! These are not session lagers, but beers to be savoured.  It changed our drinking habits and our appreciated for beer. 

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In Toronto, our friends took us to Kensington, a place where you should go if you are hungry! Every nationality of food is catered for and every type of allergy, food intolerance is catered for.  This is a place you can find gluten free, vegan cupcakes or authentic Mexican and cheeses from every corner of the world. There is coffee shops, juice bars, wine bars, cocktails bars, breweries, tea houses and more! Every corner has something different, from African to Asia.

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The food, service and hospitality that we’ve experienced in both the US and North America has been exceptional. There are some passionate and dedicated people doing great things in food, fitness and liquor! We leave today and head to Iceland and have no idea what to expect!