I’ve never been to Canberra before….. and I thought it was brilliant. Jack’s been a few times for sport in the past, and always had a great time. The thing I loved most was how easy it was to get from one side of the city to the other; we did this about 6 times in one day and it was very un-stressful. Everyone is friendly, the place is super clean, very efficient and there is a feeling of safety in the Capital. It might have something to do with the fact that everyone seems to be middle and upper middle class?? Not sure, but different towns/cities have different vibes.
Also, there’s a lot of fit looking folk about, maybe having the AIS in town is a good influence?
We stayed for two nights at a local hotel, and ended up eating out a lot over those two days. We kinda felt the difference between making our own food and eating restaurant food. As lovely as it is at the time, restaurant food is not usually prepared with our health in mind. What really struck me though was the mini-bar selection in the hotel: we had 4 hampers to choose from, and not one of them had anything nutritious in them. It’s almost like hotels the world over think that everyone arrives and immediately wants a beer, whisky, coca-cola, wine, M&Ms, chocolate bars, bags of crisps and salted peanuts. Okay, maybe if it’s the first night of your holiday you do, but these would not be my choice of daily snacks or pre-dinner fillers.
So why have hotels not picked up their game in the last 50 years and thought about what people these days might actually want/crave after a day of eating crap at a work conference, or a day travelling and eating crap at roadside cafes? Imagine being able to call down to reception and order a small fruit basket, a packet of mixed raw nuts, a small chia pudding to pop in the fridge for breakfast, a few healthy muesli bars, some bliss balls, brown rice crackers or healthy corn chips, for those who are gluten free, and a selection of healthy dips! Most of these could be kept in the mini bar or ordered from reception. Add some bottled green juices, coconut water and smoothies and I’d be in mini -bar heaven.
We also love a wine and beer as much as the next person, so a few cold ones sourced from the local microbrewery, at least one light or mid strength beer, and a selection of local wines would be ideal. I think I need to send a few emails to some hotel chains and talk healthy eating and supporting local businesses!
We finally braved the cold of Canberra for real on our third night, and camped in the van at the Cotter River Reserve, which overlooks Murrumbidgee River and is located 15kms from Canberra. It’s a council run campsite with hot showers!! It was around 2 degrees when we arrived and -4 degrees the next morning, my Ugg boots and beanie stayed firmly in place all night!..sorry partner 🙂
If you are in Canberra and want a beautiful meal we can recommend the following:
'Local Press', on Kingston Foreshore – one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had, not unlike the breakfast at 'Nourished' in Avalon, which was formerly owned by Theresa Cutter (www.thehealthychef.com.au). This place takes healthy eating seriously and the portions are huge, which makes Jack happy!
'Au Lac' Vegetarian restaurant in Dickson (they own 3 restaurants) is all vegetarian food, but you can order your favourite Asian dish such as duck ala orange and you will receive it: but it will be done with imitation duck and a healthier sauce:) Sounds terrible – it’s not! It’s really fresh and lovely, and it was packed with all walks of life. The owner served us, a gorgeous woman, about to turn 50, & who loves Bikram yoga and is a walking advert for her own food.
A wee shout out for 'Banana Leaf' in the Canberra CBD, a Sri Lankan restaurant where we had a quick, but delicious meal. No trace of that sugary taste you get with most Asian sauces. The staff were outstanding too.
Whilst in Canberra, we found free range eggs, sourdough bread, olive oil and fruit-free muesli at the Canberra farmers market. The muesli is amazing! comes in 1kg bags, called ‘The Brick’ and produced by a local company. It’s made from barley, psyllium husks, macadamias, almonds, chia seeds and walnuts. Mix muesli, a small Greek yoghurt and some goji berries in an airtight container and you’ve got Bircher muesli for breakfast and afternoon tea. Add chopped banana, coconut water, grated apple etc. I don’t think our 1kg bag is going to last very long though, it’s too yummy!
The eggs made a beautiful frittata last night: a bag of stir fry veggies thrown into a frying pan with coconut oil and tamari sauce, add 5 eggs and let it set. Serve with a bag of spinach leaves dressed with olive oil and lemon juice (thanks for the lemons off your tree Gill). We also managed to find a decent hommus last night at the local Woollies in Merimbula (made by SSS Foods). We are having hommus withdrawal as we probably make it ourselves once a week. After spending five mins checking each hommus variety for all the added nasties, the last one we checked (well, Jack checked!) was simply chickpeas, tahina, lemon juice, salt, citric acid and garlic. No dairy, gluten, canola oil or vinegar and guess what? It was the cheapest: on special for $2.99 – no one wants the healthy stuff!
To keep the beer-belly monster at bay (Jack's missing Block 'n Tackle) we’ve have a new game – well, it’s actually an old one, as we’ve been doing this for years, but it works. If you’ve done no exercise one day, except for walking about, or driving in a car, or running a fitness course – and you want a cold beer, then you have to do your push-ups and sit-ups. 5 to 10 mins, and you are done, depending on how you do them.
Here I am doing a tabata push-up routine: 20 seconds on/10 seconds off, 8 rounds, total time is 4minutes. I average around 10 push-ups in the first 4 rounds and it all goes awry after that!
Finish with Tabata burpees (4 mins), Tabata star jumps (think jet star ad, 4 mins) and our usual ab routine and you have created some space in your muscles to soak up a few beers!