Tag Archives: Food Products

Great Snack: Two Easy Dips with Pita Chips!

So as most of you know, I’m a huge fan of Trader Joe’s 🙂 This past weekend when I was grocery shopping, I came across two dips that I thought would make a great snack: The Trader Joe’s Organic Hummus Dip, and The Masala Lentil Dip. I’ve had a bunch of different Trader Joe’s hummus dips before, but I had never tried the organic version. The organic version actually has better nutritional information than the regular version (20 fewer calories per serving, with the same amount of fiber & protein). And I’m pretty sure the Masala Lentil Dip is new because I hadn’t seen it before! (It also has good nutritional value – only 60 calories for 2 Tbsp, and a good amount of fiber & protein!)  Both were fabulous, and I served them with home made Pita Chips (recipe below). But you can also eat them with sliced veggies – e.g. carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, zucchini, etc., and you can also combine them with a cheese plate if you pick your cheeses wisely 🙂

Here’s the Organic Hummus Dip…

And here’s the Masala Lentil Dip…

And here’s the Pita Chips Recipe!!

Note: I like making Pita Chips at home rather than buying the pre-made, packaged version. Usually those have either added fats, preservatives, etc. to make them taste good – which end up adding more calories to the pita chips. Also, they’re usually not made with whole wheat pita bread, so you lose the added fiber and nutritional value there as well. It’s really easy to make pita chips at home – took less than 5 minutes!

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat pita bread
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt, pepper, other spices to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a grill pan or panini press over medium-high heat, spray with olive oil spray
  2. Put 1 whole wheat pita bread on the panini press, spray the top lightly with olive oil spray and close the panini press (if on a grill pan, flip the pita once the side that’s down is crispy and browned)
  3. Take the pita out once it’s crispy (like a chip!), season with salt/pepper/or your favorite spices to taste
  4. With a serrated bread knife, cut the whole pita into 8 equal wedges. Serve with dip!

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New Product Find: Food Should Taste Good Chips!

Recently, I was contacted by the wonderful team at Food Should Taste Good – asking if I’d try their chips and write up a review. After checking out their website and reading about their company – I was intrigued, and agreed to try a sampling of 5 flavors (they have 11 total): Cheddar, Blue Corn, Sweet Potato, Chocolate, and Multi Grain. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect (especially from the Chocolate flavored chip!), but I have to say – after me and my husband tried the chips, we were both very impressed. The chips really live up to the company’s motto: they all taste really GOOD 🙂 And the best part about them – they are super healthy! I’m always on the lookout for healthy product finds, and these chips are probably the healthiest chips I’ve ever come across!

Here are the stats:

Serving size: 9-12 HUGE chips. Seriously – each chip is like a large cracker – even if you broke them all in half, youd end up with good sized chips (so you could even say that you get 18-24 half sized chips in one serving!)

Calories: 140 per serving

Fiber: 3-4g!

Protein: 2-3g

The other great thing about these chips is you can pronounce ALL the ingredients. Each ingredient list is pretty short too – and they use great power-foods like quinoa, flax seeds, stone ground corn, high oleic sunflower oil, etc. Their chips are gluten-free, kosher, lactose free, trans fat free, low in sodium, cholesterol free, not genetically modified, contain no MSG, and have no preservatives! You’d think – with a list like that, that the chips would end up tasting like cardboard. Trust me – that is NOT the case. They are super crispy, have a wonderful nutty flavor, and for the varieties like Chocolate or Sweet Potato – the chips contain a nice subtle essence of those ingredients – enough to taste, but not too much that it overpowers the flavor. Food Should Taste Good has also come up with a bunch of accompaniments to their flavor varieties on their website, from Artichoke Spinach Dip with Multigrain, to a Fresh Fruit Salsa with Sweet Potato.

Out of the flavors they sent me, I have to say the Cheddar and Multi Grain are my favorites – but I haven’t tried all of them so there could be even more amazing ones out there! I really commend this company for helping to promote healthy foods but in a very tasty, flavorful way. My husband (who is very particular about what chips he likes) – loved these as well – so these aren’t just for the health nuts out there (like me 🙂 ). If these are available at your local grocery store, I’d definitely recommend checking them out! Thanks Food Should Taste Good – great job on making an amazing product!

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Simple, Healthy Asian Stir Fry with Veggies and Tofu!

Yesterday I got home after a long day, and still had tons of work left that I needed to finish that evening! So basically – I was in no mood to spend more than 20 min in the kitchen cooking dinner for me and my husband. Luckily, we had frozen vegetables in the freezer, and tofu in the fridge – and I immediately thought of doing a super healthy, quick Asian stir fry for dinner! I guarantee this recipe won’t take you more than 20 min to make, and you don’t even need any oil for the stir fry – I promise! The recipe and ingredients are below – hope you like it 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 Packages of Frozen Asian Mixed Veggies (you can find these in the frozen section – I like to get the one with the greatest variety of veggies – Trader Joe’s has an awesome option, see picture below)
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Package Firm Tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1 Package Thai Baked Tofu, cut into cubes (see picture below – I use the kind from Trader Joe’s but you should be able to find baked tofu in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets)
  • Trader Joe’s Thai Red Curry Sauce (see picture below – again you can pretty much use any bottled sauce mixture you like – check out the Asian section in your supermarket. But make sure to get a sauce that’s relatively low in calories and sugar! I like the Thai Red Curry Sauce because it’s only 80 calories for 1/4 cup – which is really all you need if you mix it with Soy Sauce!)
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • Quick Cooking Brown Rice (I like minute brown rice – see picture below)
  • Sesame Seeds (just to sprinkle over the finished dish)

Directions

  1. Cook 1 cup of minute brown rice according to package directions.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium to medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray, and pour the frozen veggies into the pan. Stir fry 5-10 min until the veggies are cooked through, add soy sauce to taste towards the end of the cooking process (note – the Trader Joe’s Asian Veggies comes with a great soy flavored sauce – so I usually just add that instead of soy sauce. But if you get a different frozen veggies mixture, then soy sauce is a decent substitute).
  3. Spray another pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Saute the tofu cubes until slightly crispy on the outside, add 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce towards the end of cooking for flavor
  4. Add the tofu cubes to the veggies, and add 1/4 cup Thai Red Curry Sauce (or more to taste). Stir fry lightly just until the entire mixture is heated through. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top (not too much – just a pinch for each serving). Serve with brown rice and enjoy!

Nutritional Information: While I don’t have exact nutritional stats for this dish, I’d estimate it would be around 400-500 calories per serving (depending on how much tofu and rice you take). Also – the mixed veggies provide tons of fiber as does the brown rice, and the tofu is a great protein. All in all, a really well rounded meal!

Pictures of the Products I Used:

Finished Product!


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My Top 10 Healthy Snacks

I often get asked what kinds of foods I eat in order to maintain my weight. A lot of those questions are about snacking – especially for those of us who have desk jobs and without-fail, get the “munchies” around 3 or 4pm! So I thought I’d put together a list of my top 10 healthy snacks – those that I eat on a regular basis that are filling, tasty but still healthy and low in calories. My general rule for snacking is I try to eat whole foods – so I stay away from most packaged goods if I can help it. But I am including a few of my favorite packaged goodies in the list below for those emergency situations! 🙂 Hope this is helpful to all of you!

Top 10 Healthy Snacks

1) FRUIT! Fruit is an awesome snack – and it’s available year round! Most fruits are high in fiber, sweet, tasty, and filling. In the Fall, I go for Fuji Apples, Grapes and Bosc Pears (but any Pear will do!). In the Winter, I go for Oranges (I love blood oranges), Apples, Tangerines, Bananas (but be careful – one banana can have up to 130 calories). Spring and Summer are awesome, because there are so many options! My favorites for Spring/Summer are: Apricots, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Grapes, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Stone Fruits like Peaches, Plums, Nectarines, Pluots (which is a Plum/Apricot hybrid that is usually sweeter than a Plum).

2) Raw Veggies with Hummus (or other healthy ) Dip: Carrot sticks, celery sticks, Raw broccoli, etc are all good options. I like to eat them with 2-3 Tbsp Hummus. But you can also eat them with Laughing cow cheese, or fat free dressing (~25-35 calories per serving).

3) Non-Fat Yogurt with 1/4 cup Fiber One or All Bran Cereal: This is a great snack and very filling. The yogurt gives you lots of protein and the fiber one has (of course) fiber, and is only about 30 calories for 1/4 cup! I like Fage 0% Greek Yogurt – which is only 90 calories but packs over 10g protein! You can sweeten the yogurt with a bit of splenda or sugar free preserves, or honey (but don’t go overboard with the honey – 1 Tbsp has about 60 calories!). By the way – one trap a lot of people fall into is topping their yogurt with Granola. Granola (though it sounds healthy) is actually FULL of sugar and calories. 1/4 cup can have up to 100-150 calories!

4) Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds: Yeah, yeah, I know these are kind of a dessert. But dark chocolate (make sure you get the kind that’s like 70% cacao) is full of antioxidants, and almonds are full of fiber and protein! These also satisfy a sweet tooth really well 🙂 Just make sure you read the label and don’t take more than 100-150 calories (which is probably about 4-7 almonds depending on their size)

5) Nuts and Dried Fruit: The key here, is to make sure the nuts you buy are just that – nuts. The package should have one ingredient (maybe two if they roast the nuts with salt). My favorites are Almonds, Walnuts and Cashews. The same rule applies for dried fruit – there shouldn’t be any added sugars or oils on the packaging. I like raisins, dried blueberries and dried cranberries. The one trap people fall into with nuts and dried fruit is they take too much – and end up eating like 500 calories. 1/4 cup of almonds is about 150-170 calories (applicable for most nuts). So I’d aim for about 2 Tbsp nuts and 2 Tbsp dried fruits. That should be filling enough to hold you over until your next meal! 🙂

6) 100 Calorie Packs: So this is one of my packaged snacks on the list – 100 calorie packs! These are great because they are already portioned out – and it feels like you’re eating a lot when you get to finish the bag. The other great thing is – they come in like 1,000 different varieties now. They even have 100 calorie pack hostess cupcakes! So pick your favorite, and enjoy!

7) 1 Slice of Oroweat Double Fiber Bread (toasted) with 1 Garlic Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge: The great thing about this bread, is it has like 7g fiber and only 70 calories per slice! The Laughing cow cheese wedges are only 30 calories per wedge, and one is more than enough to spread over a slice of bread. I like to toast the bread so it’s crispy, and spread on the cheese while the bread is hot so the cheese gets nice and melty 🙂 100 calories and a great snack!

8 ) Pretzels, PopChips, All Bran Fiber Crackers (only take about 100 calories worth – for the Fiber Crackers, that’s about 10 of them): This is a good snack if you want something crispy, salty, but you don’t want to eat a bag of potato chips. By the way – PopChips taste a lot like potato chips but are much healthier! These are also all good packaged snack options when you’re on the run.

9) Tea and a 2/3 cup of Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal: When I’m sort of hungry, but not really hungry – I’ll usually make myself a nice cup of hot tea (black tea with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, splenda, and 1/4 cup of nonfat milk is my favorite). If I want something to munch on, I’ll take a handful of Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal – and depending on how big a handful I take – that’ll end up being ~50 calories.

10) Protein Bars: My favorites are Clif Bars, Lara Bars, and Luna Bars. They all have > 4g fiber; about ~200 calories; and at least 5-6g protein. My favorite flavors for Clif are: Chocolate Peanut, Chocolate Brownie, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Oatmeal Raisin. My favorite Lara Bar flavors are Cashew Cookie and Peanut Butter Cookie. My favorite Luna Bar Flavors are Nutz over Chocolate, S’mores, Caramel Nut Brownie.

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Items for a Healthy Pantry!

Hi Everyone! So this weekend, while I was looking for some healthy 4th of July meals to prepare, I came across this article on the Food Network’s Website. The article was entitled “The Healthy Pantry” – and I thought it was super helpful in outlining those staples that are “must haves” when creating a healthy meal. The full list is here – and my favorites / additions / modifications (and little explanations of why they’re good items to have) are below. Enjoy!

1) Oils, Vinegars & Condiments


  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Adds great flavor for cooking, perfect for salad dressing, and has tons of healthy fats and antioxidants)
  • Butter made with healthy Omega 3s (e.g. Smart Balance)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (the link has a full list of other vinegars that are good for cooking)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Ketchup (A great low cal way to spice up burgers and sandwiches)
  • Barbecue sauce (Make sure you get one that is super low in sugar – around 45 calories for 2 Tbsp)
  • Reduced-fat / fat-free mayonnaise (Trader Joe’s has a great “vegan mayo” that’s made from healthy oils instead of eggs. It tastes great – really close to regular mayo – and is way better for you!)
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • Prepared pesto (This is an item on the Food Network list that I would actually suggest not having. Prepared pesto is often very high in fat and preservatives. I’d suggest making your own or buying it fresh from a store like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)
  • Salsa (Pace Picante or fresh pico de gallo is my favorite)
  • Hot sauce
  • If you’re into salad dressings – make sure to get fat free / low calorie versions of the original – e.g. Kraft Light or Hidden Valley Fat Free)
  • Real maple syrup (Be sure to avoid the sugary syrups like Mrs. Butterworth’s “syrup” that you can find at your local grocery store – those don’t provide any of the antioxidant health benefits that real maple syrup has, and they are often super high in sugar)
  • Fresh fruit preserves (Better than Smucker’s Jelly because they contain real fruit!)
  • Pizza Sauce (Make sure you get one that is low in sugar – Trader Joe’s has a great organic pizza sauce that’s super flavorful and low in calories/sugar)

2) Seasonings


  • Salt (Sea salt is better than regular salt because it’s less refined and has more minerals – but it is also less salty so you have to account for that in recipes)
  • Black pepper (Freshly ground is my favorite)
  • Dried herbs and spices: ground cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper, rosemary, thyme leaves, oregano, Italian seasoning blend, tarragon leaves, ground cinnamon, ground ginger
  • Vanilla extract

3) Canned Goods & Bottle Items


  • Canned tomatoes (crushed with italian seasonings are great for sauces), tomato paste
  • Reduced-sodium broths
  • Canned beans: cannellini, kidney, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) — I’d also add black beans and pinto beans to the list!
  • Canned lentils
  • Low calorie canned soups: Amy’s has a great variety of soups; also Trader Joe’s has a few that I love: Organic Tomato Bisque; Split Pea; Black Bean — tons of fiber, great tasting and high in protein
  • Fat free refried beans (Look for the vegetarian versions – I like refried black beans from Rosarita the best)
  • Chunk light tuna and salmon

4) Grains & Legumes


  • Assorted whole-wheat pasta
  • Regular and instant brown rice
  • Whole-wheat couscous
  • Quinoa – this isn’t on the Food Network list but I’d strongly recommend it – the only grain that’s a complete protein
  • Regular and quick-cooking barley
  • Bulgur
  • Rolled oats – steel cut oats are also great.
  • Dried lentils
  • For breads, I like Orowheat’s Double Fiber bread for sandwiches; Orowheat 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns for burgers; Thomas’ Whole wheat bagel thins; Thomas’ Light english muffins, High fiber whole wheat pita bread; Mission carb balance tortillas  – all of these can be frozen if you don’t use them up right away – they freeze really well and taste exactly the same after being heated in a toaster oven!

5) Baking Products


  • Whole-wheat flour and whole-wheat pastry flour. (Store in the refrigerator or freezer.)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Unprocessed wheat bran
  • Quick-rising yeast
  • Cornstarch
  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar – I like the organic cane sugar from Trader Joe’s
  • Honey
  • Splenda or Stevia (if you’re into artificial sweeteners, these are the best)

6) Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit


  • Walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, almonds – I’d also add cashews and sunflower seeds if you like them – they are a great source of vitamins and you can also use cashews as a substitute for cream in many dishes!
  • Dried apricots, dates, cranberries, raisins
  • Peanut butter (natural) – the only ingredient should be ground peanuts

7) Refrigerator Basics


  • 1% or skim milk
  • Reduced-fat sour cream (I’d go with fat free here – you can’t taste the difference!)
  • Fruit juice – make sure you don’t get juice that’s mostly sugar
  • Large eggs – Organic, free range eggs are the best – and if you can find omega 3 yolks that’s even better! Try using only egg whites in your omelettes/fritattas/etc – you’ll get all of the protein with none of the fat
  • Cheese: sharp Cheddar, feta, Parmesan, mozzarella (fat free feta crumbles are super low calorie and taste great… but for the other cheeses I’d go with the full fat versions)
  • For cream cheese – I’d suggest using Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges – much lower in calories and still has the great creamy taste
  • Nonfat or light vanilla yogurt – Greek yogurt is your best option here – nonfat version is still super creamy and packs up to 15g of protein!

8 ) Freezer Basics


  • Frozen fruit — frozen berries are the best – super high in fiber, and freeze really well
  • Frozen vegetables: edamame (soybeans), broccoli, corn, bell pepper-and-onion mix, peas, spinach
  • Low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt and/or sorbet (should be around 100-120 calories per half cup)
  • Frozen cheese ravioli or tortellini — this is ok – but if you have time to get the fresh versions and freeze them I’d suggest doing that instead

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Healthy Veggie Eats in Portugal and Spain!

Hi Everyone! I know it’s been a long time since I last posted – and that’s because I was traveling throughout Spain & Portugal for most of June! It was an amazing vacation in two beautiful countries. One of the things I was actually a little concerned about when we left was whether we’d find enough vegetarian and healthy food options on our trip. Now – I am all about indulging when you’re on vacation – but I like indulging in really flavorful, wholesome (and obviously vegetarian) food 🙂 This post is about our 16 day journey, and all the wonderful vegetarian and healthy eats we found along the way. Hope you enjoy and hope it’s helpful for any vegetarians traveling to Spain & Portugal (or non-vegetarians who are interested in some healthy options!)

Day 1: Heathrow Airport & Lisbon

Eating healthy is always a challenge, but even more so when you’re traveling internationally. On the way to Portugal, we had a layover in Heathrow. Airport food options are never great, especially when you have TGI Fridays at one end of the airport and random pre-made food options at the other end. But in Heathrow, they have a surprisingly good amount of healthy food options! I ended up getting my lunch at a place called “EAT” – which has freshly prepared salads & sandwiches, as well as a number of other healthy snacks (yogurt, fruit, etc). I picked up an edamame, sugar snap peas, green beans and spinach salad; and a cup of greek yogurt with just a small sprinkling of granola on top. Super healthy, filling and tasty! It took a little bit of scoping out the airport to find, but once I did it was well worth it!

Our first day in Lisbon was a similar food adventure. Luckily, breakfast was provided at the hotel – fresh fruit, all bran cereal, whole wheat toast with a bit of cheese & jam – great way to start the day! Since we’re vegetarian & also looking for healthy options, Lisbon was a bit of a challenge (as most restaurants are primarily meat with few veggie, let alone healthy options!). We were walking around for an hour, starving, when we came upon Ristorante Momenti Italiani Pizzeria (address: Bairro Alto, Rua Da Misericordia – 93, Lisbon). This was a great find, and had tons of veggie options! We had the minestrone soup (low in fat, lots of veggies); a side salad (again, fresh veggies to add to the meal), and shared a margherita pizza (super thin crust, little oil, and the cheese was a great way to add protein to our meal). We also shared a bottle of green wine – really refreshing and interesting (since it looks like white wine!). All in all, a great lunch. For dinner, we found this fantastic little 100% vegetarian restaurant – Jardim doSentidos. The food was GREAT! And the ambiance was awesome – we sat outside in a little courtyard – had a nice warm breeze in the evening – very relaxing! We ordered veggie kabobs and tofu steaks served with grilled vegetables. Wonderfully tasty and healthy! Then for dessert, we splurged on a banana split and red tea 🙂 All in all – a great first day finding healthy veggie eats in Lisbon!

Day 2 – Lisbon

Again, breakfast at the hotel – you really can’t go wrong – same as Day 1.

Lunch ended up being more like coffee, tea and pastries at this wonderful pastry shop in Belem, called Café Pastéis de Belém. I know, not the healthiest lunch – but definitely an experience and a wonderful find! And this place is famous for its pastries – so definitely worth trying 🙂

For dinner, we went to Terra Restaurante Natural – another all veggie restaurant in Lisbon – what are the odds!! It basically feels like eating an all veggie potluck at someone’s house – the restaurant is set up with seating in a beautiful garden out back; while inside is the all veggie buffet laid out in a kitchen like setting. We had amazing dishes like veggie chili, seasoned corn, veggie couscous with almonds, raisins, peppers and corn, veggie meatballs with sauce & spaghetti, veggie gourmet pizza, a bunch of different salads, falafel balls, and lots of other great dishes! Truly a find in Lisbon.

Day 3 – Porto

Veggie dishes in Porto were a bit more of a challenge to find than Lisbon, but we actually ended up coming across some good restaurants that had some decent veggie options for us. Our first day in Porto we ended up eating pizza at Casal – a very hip, trendy restaurant in the main part of town, with amazing desserts & crepes too! Dinner was at a restaurant called Giroflee – sort of an Italian / fusion type place. We had a really yummy cheese plate, a great Syrah wine, Mushroom ravioli in a cheese sauce, and a tofu steak marinated in an asian influenced, sesame sauce with roasted vegetables. It was a really great meal, but the portions were pretty small so we were still hungry after!

Day 4 – Porto

Today for lunch we ended up at Café Majestic. No doubt a touristy spot, but really good food nonetheless. I had a great sandwich – just typical vegetarian – multi grain bread, an amazing thinly sliced cheese, tomato, lettuce and shredded carrots. It felt really good to eat something nice and “normal” for lunch. My husband ordered a tomato & cheese omelette – which was pretty good but take note – the eggs in Portugal don’t taste like the eggs in the US – they actually look different too – the yolks are much more yellow – almost like a mustard color vs. the yolks in the US.

For dinner, we had two great veggie options – Sitar – an Indian restaurant across the river with the typical Indian fare – channa masala, veggie samosas, mixed veggie curry, saag paneer, etc. The second was a Thai place – Real Thai – with over 10 different vegetarian dishes – all good!  We chose Sitar for dinner, and kept Real Thai for lunch the next day. The food at Sitar was very tasty – but very very oily! However, at that point I was craving something other than bread and cheese so I didn’t mind it as much, and just tried to temper my portions accordingly.

We also did wine tasting at Sandman and Calem – amazing port wines (they don’t serve food but definitely check out the Port tasting at these two wineries!)

Day 5 – Porto & Barcelona

We started our day with lunch at Real Thai – I had a tofu & veggie stir fry and my husband had a veggie / tofu curry. Both were really good – not too spicy and TONS of veggies! It was a really well balanced meal and a good way to start the day. Then we visited

Then we visited Vinologia – a wonderful port wine tasting shop in the heart of Porto. The cool thing about this place is they serve you various dried fruits and chocolates to pair with the wines which makes the experience a lot more fun!

We headed to Barcelona in the evening, and while searching for a vegetarian restaurant, we came across The BioCenter. This place was AMAZING. It’s an organic, all vegetarian restaurant where the menu changes daily. The prix fixe on Fri & Sat is only 15 euros per person and includes 4 very filling, amazing courses! We had a pureed vegetable soup – very flavorful and warming; a seaweed, spinach, sunflower seeds, cucumber, carrot, and pepper salad with a mustard vinagarette; tofu and squash “balls” – baked in the oven and served with couscous & a curry sauce; and a seitan steak which my husband loved. For dessert, we had a baked apple and a vegan chocolate cake – delicious! They also make fresh juices here – which I’d highly recommend trying!

Day 6 – Barcelona

For lunch, we headed to this organic bakery called Artesia. We each had a freshly prepared sandwich with inventive ingredients – for me: a nut & raisin bread sandwich with tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives, fresh sheep cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette. For him: a nut & raisin bread sandwich with goat cheese, spinach, caramelized onions and honey. Both were grilled in a Panini press and served hot – so good!

For dinner, we visited L’Hortet – another all vegetarian restaurant near our hotel. However, this place didn’t seem very tourist friendly – both of our waitresses got irritated with us for not being able to speak Spanish, and one ended up just refusing to serve us at the end because we weren’t Spanish. This was definitely more of a “local” veggie joint – and while the food was pretty good: We had a margherita pizza with a whole wheat crust, a wonderfully fresh salad with lots of veggies, and a tofu noodle stir fry; the service (or lack thereof) left us feeling dissatisfied with this restaurant. It was good in terms of getting veggie food, but if you care about ambiance, service and a general feeling of being welcome in a restaurant – I definitely wouldn’t recommend this place.

For dessert, we found a great gelato place – one of hundreds that line the streets of Barcelona. So good and refreshing on a hot summer night!

Day 7 – Barcelona

Today we went to the Picasso museum – and on the way back stumbled across a fresh, mostly vegetarian buffet called Fresc Co. It was an all you can eat salad bar that also had soups, pizzas, pastas and prepared dishes; along with free drinks, fresh fruit, dessert and tea/coffee! It was a great find and made for a healthy and light lunch.

For dinner we went to Bar Lobo – amazing tapas place with tons of veggie options! The ambiance in this restaurant is also amazing – it feels like someone’s loft but also has an upscale/elegant vibe. We had pita & hummus (which was freshly made with olive oil), patas bravas (potatoes sautéed with a yummy sauce), a veggie stir fry, and a flatbread with tomatoes, walnuts and cheese. They also had great wines, and served a house bread complementary that was whole grain, freshly baked, and really good!

Day 8 – Barcelona

Lunch today was on the go – we were doing a walking tour of the Gaudi sights, so we didn’t have time to find a good place to sit down and eat. We ended up at a Panini place and had asparagus, caramelized onions and manchego cheese paninis, which actually turned out to be really good!

For dinner, we visited our staple – The BioCenter – had their veggie soup again (which tasted different because each day the veggies they use are different!), a carrot and lemon smoothie, a tofu stir fry with whole grain cous cous, and a raw veggie lasagna – all really good!

Day 9 – Barcelona & Granada

Lunch in Barcelona at Artesia again – I had the 9 grain bread with sheep cheese, onions and honey – definitely good. One thing we learned is when we found a few restaurants that worked for us – we’d just go back and order something different on the menu. This is obviously not necessary if you’re not vegetarian but it really helped us!

Dinner in Granada – was more of a sustenance dinner… we were starving and it was 10pm – so we went to one of the more touristy eateries near our hotel. The dinner did turn out to be pretty good though – vegetable paella with lots of different veggies and a veggie pizza. Not the best, but I had stopped by the market and gotten an apple and cherries so that balanced our meal a little more.

Day 10 – Granada

Today we found a tiny smoothie & sandwich shop called Greens & Berries – we had a wonderful lunch there. I had a smoothie made with just berries, apples and bananas; my husband had one made with pineapples, oranges, coconut and banana – both were excellent. We also had sandwiches made fresh on whole grain bread, with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and arugula. Really tasty, healthy and filling!

For dinner, we went to Chile Grande Cantina Mexicana – probably the only Mexican restaurant in all of Granada – and happened to be SUPER veggie friendly! Their veggie “filling” is very hearty – a combination of pinto beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, peppers, bean sprouts and carrots. This is what came as the filling in the veggie enchiladas and soft tacos we ordered. Additionally, both dishes were served with vegetarian refried beans, lettuce, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, sautéed corn and cheese. It ended up being a very healthy meal and a nice change from all the bread & cheese we’d been eating! This restaurant also has a great veggie burger that is made onsite – from beans and other veggie ingredients.

Day 11 – Granada

For lunch we just stopped by a cafe and ordered a small sandwich and tea. We walked around the town and found two other good vegetarian options: Raices – which is an all vegetarian restaurant and Restaurant Meknes – a Moroccan restaurant with tons of veggie options and wonderful teas! We wanted to go to Raices for dinner, but when we got there at 7:30 we found out they didn’t open until 9pm! (Take note – this happens a lot in Spain – restaurants will close from 4pm-8pm or 9pm and most grocery stores may be closed during this time too!) So since our Mexican restaurant was near Raices, we just ended up eating there instead because we were too hungry to wait until 9pm for dinner 🙂

Day 12 – Seville

For lunch we stopped by a roadside café, to just get something small to hold us over – we ended up sharing a vegetarian tortellini which (surprisingly) was very tasty! For dinner, we went to Habanita – a tapas style restaurant with a full vegetarian menu. We ordered a black bean, cheese and plantain dip, veggie nuggets with an interesting dipping sauce, and ratatouille. Overall it was a pretty good dinner.

Day 13 – Seville

After a walk through the city, Centro Ecologico Gaia was where we ended up for lunch. This place was also amazing and rivaled the Bio Center from Barcelona! We had a cream of vegetables soup (which was actually pureed vegetables – no cream added) and a tofu “steak” with two types of tofu and sautéed vegetables. We also had sweet veggie croquettes (walnuts, oats, cinnamon, etc) tasted kind of like churros / cinnamon sticks. Great wine, TONS of veggie options – it was hard to choose! They give a wonderful bread basket with whole grain breads to start. Everything is organic & locally sourced; they also have a huge health food store next door with lots of yummy eats. Open for lunch & dinner except Sundays.

Dinner was at Aladdin – a Mediterranean restaurant on Santa Maria Blanca. Their falafel is AMAZING, probably the best I’ve ever tasted. They also have a great Mediterranean style salad called the Aladdin (tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, olives & herbs with freshly cut cheese – into mini cubes – on top). No dressing, served with salt pepper & olive oil on the side. The owner is also really nice and they’re open on Sundays which is very helpful (because many restaurants are closed on Sundays too!).

Day 14 – Seville

We had lunch at this Italian place on Santa Maria Blanca called Ristorante Pizzeria Mario – they had tons of veggie options, it was all Italian which looked great. We ordered a margherita pizza and spinach/cheese ravioli. The food would have been excellent, but when it came out it looked like they dumped a cup of olive oil over both the pizza and the pasta! Needless to say, I didn’t eat much, it was just way too oily – kind of a disappointment especially since the food would have been really tasty without the oil.

Dinner was lower key, at Aladdin. Ordered falafel again – so good!

Day 15 – Madrid

Lunch at La Galette – super cute restaurant with a French vibe, the wait staff doesn’t speak English but the owner came out to serve us and take our order himself! He was AWESOME – super nice and friendly and not at all hostile to foreigners. The menu at La Galette is very inventive – they have a huge vegetarian menu – we ordered the lentil soup (amazing), apple croquettes – also very good but more like dessert, and a veggie “burger” which turned out to be very creative – a bundle of rice, lentils, shredded carrots, and zucchini, wrapped in a cooked large leaf of chard, and topped with melted cheese. It was actually very tasty and flavorful – served like two “patties” with no bun. Really creative! The sangria there was also really good – light and retained the flavor of the wine it was made with. They also serve you carrot sticks with a wonderful cream cheese blend and bread as a starter – overall it was an excellent meal.

Dinner at Yerba Buena – definitely the most “high flown” veg food we had the entire trip – dishes with paragraph descriptions, very creative, excellent presentation. We had jalapeno “poppers” and a vegetable puree soup to start which were both amazing. The restaurant also presented us with an “aperitif” – homemade guac & a green shot – I think it was made from spinach. Both were really tasty and very good. Our entrees weren’t as good as our appetizers. I ordered a wheat tortilla stuffed with veggies in a rice & cheese sauce, and my husband ordered a seitan / tofu curry – which ended up being more like  tofu pork chop. Both the entrees were ok but were extremely large portions and super filling (without being amazingly tasty). For dessert, we ordered a chocolate cup & digestive tea – both were excellent. With the check, we were served a box of candies/mints. All in all a pretty satisfying meal – I would recommend focusing on their appetizers and other small plates vs. the entrees.

Day 16 – Heathrow Airport (again)

On the trip back, I had a HUGE delay at Heathrow airport – I was sitting there for over 5 hours. In that time, I decided to stock up on a bunch of healthy eats before I boarded the plane – so I wouldn’t be left hungry and have to resort to plane food / plane snacks which are pretty high in calories & fat. I visited EAT again and picked up two small salads, a fruit cup, a vegetarian sandwich with cheese on whole wheat bread, and a greek yogurt. I also ordered tea to hold me over while I waited. The snacks / food worked wonderfully on the plane as a few small meals until I landed in SFO.

And that’s it! Now I’m back and will be blogging a lot more frequently than before 🙂 I wanted to share a couple of final tips before I end this post on how to eat healthily when you’re traveling:

  • Find a market that has fresh fruits and veggies. We found tons all across Spain & Portugal – they had these open air markets that were just amazing. We picked up fresh fruits there daily, and always had them on hand for a healthy snack or to add some extra fiber into our diet (if we happened to eat a little less “healthy” that day)
  • Walk! If you’re in a city where it’s easy to travel on foot – take advantage of it. You’ll burn off anything “extra” you eat and that’ll also allow you to indulge in the local delicacies more! It’s also a lot more fun to see foreign cities on foot – we had an awesome time exploring and really felt like we got the “feel” for each city we were in because we just walked everywhere.
  • Take a few energy bars and high fiber cereal to snack on – these make for great portable snacks and work as a meal replacement if you’re stuck somewhere and the only thing to eat is oily pizza or fast food.

With these tips, you’ll be all set for a trip with wonderful food, lots of activity and feeling great when you return (instead of feeling like you have to lose the 20 lbs you gained while you were on vacation!) I had an amazing time on my trip, and I hope these tips and suggestions were helpful to any of you traveling to the same cities! Happy eating 🙂

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Make a Health(ier) Cheese Plate!

Last night, my husband and I wanted a slight change of pace for dinner, and we wanted something a little lighter to match the awesome spring weather we’ve been experiencing. We LOVE wine and cheese – so I thought I’d figure out a way to make the traditional cheese plate a little healthier and more of a meal for dinner. Of course – the key word is “healthier” – because it’s all relative. You can’t make a good cheese plate without GREAT cheese – which will always have a lot of fat and calories. BUT – you can make the other parts of the cheese plate healthy so that, when the cheese is eaten in moderation, you end up with a pretty good meal! Here are my tips for making a healthier cheese plate below – enjoy!

1) Great Cheese: So ok, this isn’t the healthiest option for dinner, but if you’re gonna eat cheese – do it right! Get some super high quality cheeses from your local market – Trader Joe’s actually has a great cheese selection. We opted for a good brie, a smokey cheddar, and a rosemary and olive oil infused asiago. SO GOOD!

2) ADD FRUIT! This is a great way to get a lot of fiber and a filling option to pair with the cheese. And don’t skimp on it either – we used 1 bosc pear (thinly sliced), 1 fuji apple (thinly sliced) and lots of red grapes. Between two people that is a lot of fruit and a good amount of fiber (bosc pears and apples have 4-5g of fiber each!)

3) Add Nuts! Specifically – walnuts. They taste great with cheese and are loaded with fiber and healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Yum.

4) Find Good Whole Grain, Low Calorie Crackers: A couple good options: 1) Kellogg’s All Bran Fiber Crackers (18 crackers are only 130 calories and have 5g fiber!) 2) Pepperidge Farm Baked Naturals Wheat Crisps (17 crackers are 140 calories and have 2g fiber).

5) Add a yummy whole fruit spread (with minimal sugar) and honey: Both pare great with cheese and are good for you!

6) Make thin crostinis out of whole wheat, freshly baked bread: Trader Joe’s has a great freshly baked Organic Whole Grain Loaf (1/9 of a HUGE loaf has 180 calories, 6g fiber and 7g protein!)

7) Drink Red Wine: If you like red wine – pick it over white wine in the grocery store. It has healthy antioxidants and tastes sooo good with cheese!

8 ) Add a light salad on the side: This is a great way to get some healthy greens, and you can pare it with your cheeses as well (e.g. arugula and Parmesan go great together).

Hope these tips are helpful – enjoy!!

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