Sunday, 19 October 2014

Where in the world?

Well hello from the sunny (well, sometimes!) South Island in New Zealand! We're currently in a campsite in a place by the sea that my mind resolutely cannot memorise the name of. These Maori names were made to fox me. What I can say is that my view is astounding - cliffs, golden sands and waves crashing in, plus the odd sea lion stopping by. Yes, my life is pretty heavenly right now, apart from the family next door having some kind of Mexican themed fiesta...

                                                   


We're just under a week into our 17 day jaunt around the South Island in a camper van, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about meals on the road, something which is very topical for us right now. Our camper is pretty well equipped with two gas burners, a small fridge and a microwave, so I can't really complain. The microwave only works when we're hooked up to the mains, though, and were at the edge of the earth right now so definitely none of that. Tonight I managed to cook pan fried lamb steaks with mashed sweet potato (known as kumara here) and boiled brocolli and carrots. And it was great! 

Here are some tips, whether you're in a camper or just away from home for a while and trying to stay healthy:

Batch cooking

If you're getting the stove going, you best make it worthwhile and cook up a few meals worth. Not only is it economical, it means you have no excuses to grab fast food when you're all stocked up with the good stuff. Tonight I used our boiling water from the veggies to boil some eggs for a quick breakfast and snacks on the road. I also cooked extra veggies to add to my breakfast. Good times and a faster getaway in the morning. 

Keep it simple, Stupid!

No one wants to carry a tonne of food around, especially when you're only away a short while. Focus on the bare necessities. For our road trip this was decent olive oil and sea salt as a baseline. These make anything taste good. Then just make sure you plan ahead a couple of days at a time, but also take advantage of anything in season/on offer. John West's Pink Salmon for 50p a can? I'll take two. As we are by the sea in New Zealand, we've been stocking up on lamb and seafood. Makes sense, see. Buy veggies that will do double duty for dinner and lunch, like carrots you can add raw to a salad or boil for dinner. I've been having salmon and sardine salads and in the evenings we've had meat/fish simply cooked with veggies and rice or sweet potato. So easy, so fresh, so tasty. 

Treat yourself

We save treats for coffee stops, rather than stocking up. So if we're indulging in the famous NZ Flat White in a local cafe, maybe we'll grab a slice of cake to go with it. I find if I keep treats in the van or my backpack, they're gone in 60 seconds. Better to wait and savour something yummy and homemade in a cute little coffee shop. Same goes for alcohol! 

                                                   



As sure as eggs is eggs

I know not everyone is a fan but keeping these in stock means you're ready for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Cook them any way and eat them any time. Pick them up from a farm or the supermarket and get the perfect protein hit. God I love eggs. Can you tell?

It takes a bit of thought but cooking your own food on the road is so rewarding. Trust me, you soon get sick of eating out all the time, even if it is a meat and double carb fest in Bolivia! Food shopping in a new country is one of life's joys for me. Check out the local produce and make the most of it being cheap and plentiful. And yes, that can include wine ;)

                                           


Happy travels!

What's your go to on the road meal? 


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A feast for the senses

Well, hello there bloglettes! 

Please excuse the slight delay since my last post. I've been a bit busy with the small matter of walking the Inca Trail and trying to learn to surf, among other things. 

For this post I want to go back to my roots and focus on my favourite subject - FOOD (and drink, of course). And in doing so, I can fill you in on some of my travel tales along the way. You in? Here goes. 

Pizza in La Paz


We stayed right by Plaza San Pedro in La Paz, Bolivia, where we found this cute little trattoria for a traditional Saturday night date night pizza. We'd had the Kohlberg red, a Bolivian wine, on our Salt Flats tour, so enjoyed a bottle for old times' sake. At around £2 it was hard to argue against it. Unfortunately Andy went down with a stomach bug the next day, but I'm not sure we can blame the pizza. La Paz was good fun, I'd recommend doing the free city walking tour by Red Cap Tours. We learned loads about Bolivia's turbulent history. 

Quinoa soup in Copacabana


It was my turn to go down with traveller's tum next, but I can think of nowhere better to do so than sleepy Copacabana, Bolivia, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I mainly laid in bed watching Friends and Big Bang Theory while I recovered. It was bliss. When I did venture out in to the tiny little town, this soup was just the ticket. Hearty and nourishing. I may also have had half of that cheese and ham toastie you see in the background. Who can resist?! Did you know quinoa is one of the few complete plant proteins? It means it can give you all the nutrients usually found only in animal proteins. Bolivia grows this precious grain, which can only be harvested once a year. 


Chicken soup in Puno 


Starting to feel a little better in Peru, I felt like getting back in front of the hob. We headed to a local vegetable market where we stocked up on the freshest and cheapest ingredients I've seen in a long time. Fresh peas and corn are particular specialities. There's nothing like the taste of homemade chicken soup. Sadly, our visit to the floating reed islands on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca left a bitter taste in our mouths. We felt like walking dollar signs as they tried to sell us everything. Still, it was a fascinating trip. 


Trout in Cusco


This fishy delight marked our first evening in Cusco, Peru, with our dear friends who had come out to visit. It was delicious and so nice to be eating proper food again after being ill. It was also lovely to see friendly faces from home, who came bearing peanut butter, probiotics and night cream. Serious joy. 


Fried rice on the Inca Trail


I just want to have it on record that I am never doing the Inca Trail again! Twice is more than enough for one lifetime. Oh my God, so tough. But, the magnificent food did ease the pain of my creaking knees. South America has awakened a rice obsession in me, and this veggie fried rice delight was hard to quit. Those chefs on the road are gods to me. No chance of losing any pounds on the trail with those bad boys in charge. We had an awesome trek but it is not for the faint hearted. I repeat. Never again. 


Brunch at Jack's in Cusco


It will come as no surprise to you that the thought of food got me through the Inca Trail. Brunch at Jack's to be precise. You only have to look at it to see why. Pure bliss. We love Cusco, so pretty, with good food and lots of llama themed goods. What's not to love, people?


Egg white oatmeal in Cusco


For our last breakfast before heading to Lima I decided to use our eggs up and try this out. And it was good! Not sure it filled me up more than normal porridge thought, as I was still munching crap at the airport a few hours later. What is it about airports and eating junk? On to Lima and goodbye to our cosy Cusco home. 


Fish Tacos in Barranco


Yes, a little bit of California by the sea in Lima, Peru. These were very tasty, washed down with the local favourite, fresh lemonade with mint. Divine. Barranco is a pretty suburb by the sea, and we really enjoyed chilling there after Machu Picchu and a few days's surfing. Lima has a great foodie scene going on - we were treated to a fabulous meal at La Nacional in Miraflores. I could have stayed longer, it feels so familiar there, and the supermarkets have peanut butter. More than one kind... Time to move on! 


Porridge on a bus


When life hands you an olive paste sandwich for breakfast, laugh in its face with your leftover Peanut Butter and Co peanut butter, a banana, some oats and some hot water stolen out of your tea cup. Ha! This bus had personal TV screens, so it wasn't all bad. I watched The Hobbit and Les Miserables. It passed the time as we journeyed from Peru to Chile. 


Fish soup in Arica

  

And so here we are in Arica, Chile's northernmost city. You can surf and sunbathe and walk up big hills. Or just check out the local wildlife, like we did at the port today. We also enjoyed seafood empanadas and I had the biggest mussel I've ever seen, all washed down with a local beer. Monday lunchtimes, eh...




Until next time! What's the best thing you ate recently? My favourite has to be that brunch at Jack's. Long anticipated!














Sunday, 24 August 2014

Salt shake-up

Hello there everyone. I apologise if I sounded a little sorry for myself in my last post. To be honest, I'd lost my travelling mojo for a while back there, what with feeling ill and tired of moving around all the time. 

But fear not. She's back! I found her somewhere out in the middle of Bolivia's altiplano desert landscape. Andy and I spent four days in a Toyota Landcruiser with two new friends, a driver and a fabulous cook, making our way through some of the most spectacular sights I've ever seen, ending up on the Salt Flats. It was amazing and, to be honest, I'm not sure how we'll top it. 

                                                   

must admit I was a little nervous about travelling through Bolivia, but it's been a real highlight of our trip. And the food has far exceeded expectations. A four course lunch for £1.50 each? Yes please!

Eating on the road is notoriously difficult, though, and I've definitely had my ups and downs with it over the last four months or so, so I thought I'd share some tips...

Don't expect to eat as you would at home. You need to throw that notion out of the window right now. I'll admit I've been pining for peanut butter since we got to South America, but you have to adapt. Yes, there's no PB but I've focused on the fabulous bounty of fresh and cheap fruits on offer. Focus on what you can have rather than what's missing. (Although I do have my friend bringing me my favourite peanut butter brand, Peanut Butter and Co. out to Peru next week!)

                                           

That said, sometimes we all need a bit of familiarity and comfort, so do make sure to include some old favourites. I'm not a big bread eater at home, and once I'd had my fill of it for breakfasts, I invested in a bag of oatmeal to cart around with me. Having my usual banana porridge just makes me feel good sometimes. 

                                           

Do stock up on healthy snacks for journeys. For a recent 26 hour coach trip we bought loads of fruit and nuts and cooked up some chicken and brocolli risotto. It made the journey so much more bearable feeling like I was nourishing my body rather than eating a load of sugary treats to get through it. 

Don't worry if you do indulge, though. Travelling is tough - it's tiring, disorientating and stressful. If a dulce de leche cookie is going to make you feel a bit better, go ahead and have it, just don't use travelling as an excuse to eat foods that ultimately don't make you feel good. 

Do make an effort to cook some old favourites when amenities allow. I made a cracking chicken soup while we were ill in Mendoza, and it really was the best medicine. It makes me feel just that little bit more in control of my life if I can cook healthy meals for us on the road. 

                                                

Don't forget to enjoy the local cuisine as well, though. It's what travelling is all about!

                                                

Happy Sunday friends, and enjoy the bank holiday in the UK. 

Do you have any tips for eating on the road?

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Fit for travel

There is a hint of irony to the title of this post in that I have a cold for the second time in the space of a month. I am not coping well with this. I don't do ill very well (I know, who does?) and feel very frustrated and fed up. I don't usually resort to Berocca and pharmaceuticals but am currently taking a cocktail of these in an effort to steel myself for our 26 hour bus ride to Bolivia tomorrow. Yep, traveller shiz is about to get very real after being relatively coddled in the US, Brazil and Argentina so far on our journey. 

Part of my frustration is due to the fact that I had just been getting back into my exercise routine after the first cold struck in Brazil. Yes, believe it or not I did have an exercise routine on the road. Before we set off, Andy and I agreed that we wanted to make sure we keep fit on our trip. Not least because Andy has signed up for the Patagonia Marathon which is fast approaching on 27 September. In my case, I just want to make sure I feel at my best and ready for anything while we're out in the big wide world.

Obviously, travelling and exploring new cities involves a lot of walking, which has been excellent training for our four day Inca Trail hike in September. My beloved Fitbit tracked this particularly busy week in Toronto. 

                                                      


                                                   

While Andy has focused on running, I started off doing outdoor bootcamp style exercises during our first few weeks in the States. Our arrival in April meant the weather was great for outdoor exercise. Before we left the UK I made sure I had a few of my favourite no equipment workouts printed off or noted down. Good sites for these include two of my favourite blogs, Carrots and Cake and Peanut Butter Fingers, just look under their Workout pages. Pinterest is also a brilliant resource for workouts or just good old fashioned Google. 

Whenever we were headed to a new destination, I'd look at Google maps to figure out what parks there were near where we were staying. Once we arrived, I'd go and take a look first and make sure they seemed suitable - safe, clean and not too exposed to public view! Then, I'd get to it! Most of the workouts are focused on body weight exercises, so I'd add in 30 second runs between each move to add in some cardio and break it up. I'd usually do each set of exercises through twice in this way, plus a warm up and cool down. I tried to do this at least three times a week, and managed to stick to it pretty well. 
                                                   

Then we got to Texas and the summer heat and 90% humidity hit us like a truck. Ouch. 

                                

It was time to take my workout indoors, under the aircon, and rediscover my love of barre method workouts. I have the Barre 3 app, so used this to string together the short ten minute workouts into longer sessions. When we got to Nashville I went a step further and went to a BarreAmped class which was great fun and really spurred me on to keep going. BarreAmped was created by Suzanne Bowen of Suzanne Bowen Fitness, so I signed up to her online workouts which are really great. You can tailor a programme to what you want to achieve and how much time you have, or follow one of the programmes she has created. 

Keeping up the exercise has been a little harder over the last month or so in South America, though. Although the weather is cooler, it's a lot more difficult to find decent outdoor spaces, particularly with regards to security. And the wifi connections are not as speedy, so streaming the barre videos can be an exercise in frustration, pardon the pun! Add in two weeks and counting of illness, and things haven't been going so great. But, when I've felt up to it, I've done what I can, including the online streaming and taking my bootcamp workouts indoors. The main thing is to do what you can, and I've realised we use the same excuses on the road as we do at home, so they are just as easy to overcome. I look forward to feeling better again soon and getting back to it, whatever form it may take in Bolivia.

I hope this inspires you to keep fit, on the road and every day. 


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Breakfast ideas for busy people

And aren't we all busy? It's a modern epidemic! Personally, I can't really relate to this whole breakfast on the go thing. If there's one thing I ALWAYS try to make time for it's my three cups of tea and full breakfast routine. It's my quiet time, my thinking time, and I truly believe a proper, hearty breakfast gets you off to the best start possible. I used to get up 50 minutes early at home to make time for a leisurely breakfast! (Although things have changed somewhat and today's breakfast was two dulce de leche biscuits and six mini Melba toasts with marmalade on the overnight bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. Not my finest breakfast hour but rather enjoyable!)

                                                  

That said, I understand not everyone wants to sacrifice the extra time in bed, and when my friend Rachael requested some ideas for a healthy breakfast on the go, I knew I had to rise to the occasion and resist the temptation to hit snooze. See what I did there? Okay, here goes

Overnight oats

We all know porridge is a great quick breakfast, but what if you can't wait for it to cool down? One of my favourite summer breakfasts is overnight oats. The night before, simply get your bowl, measure out your usual amount of porridge oats (three tablespoons for me) and spoon over a portion of your favourite yoghurt plus some fruit. I like a chopped banana plus some berries. Cover and store in the fridge then mix it up in the morning. The oats absorb the yoghurt and go all gooey and you get that nice full up feeling from them that fruit and yogurt alone can't give you. Loves it. 

Frittata 

You knew this was coming, right? The trick is to make the frittata as detailed on my Recipes page, but make it the night before and store it in the fridge. When I do this with my smoked salmon frittata it has a touch of the cold pizza taste about it. Win! And so, so filling. 

                                                    


Cake!

Hear me out, I'm not talking Black Forest gateau here. Find a good, simple, clean recipe for banana bread, courgette (zucchini) bread or similar and bake some at the weekend. A slice of this with some fruit and yoghurt in the morning will stick to your ribs and you'll know it's filled with wholesome goodness. Try Googling BBC Good Food's Courgette Loaf Cake recipe. 

                                            


Hard boiled eggs

The trick for me when it comes to breakfast is to get some protein in there to really tide me over to lunch. Boil up a load of eggs and use them to supplement your usual cereal/yoghurt/insert sugary mass produced breakfast of choice here. 

How did I do? Got any better ideas? Please share as we struggle to come up with breakfasts on the road and even frittata gets old after a while!

Have a great weekend, friends. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Size matters

Good morning campers! Just checking in on another sunny (but slightly chilly) day in Buenos Aires. 

Today I want to talk about a bit of a taboo topic - size. For my entire adult life I've felt that I should be a perfect UK size ten. Never mind what actually suits my body, or my sanity for that matter. If those trousers start to feel a little tight, I will pummel my body into submission until it fits back in them. But, shouldn't it be the other way round? Shouldn't the clothes be made to fit me?

Before I set off on our trip I ordered a couple of pairs of hiking trousers, never the most flattering of garments. Now, I knew they came up small, so ordered a size 12. When I tried them on they were still a little tight but there was no way I was ordering the 14. I mean, imagine! Besides, of course I was going to lose those extra 7 pounds before we went away, right?

                                                 

Cut to our departure (you're guessing where this is headed, aren't you?) and there I am stuffed into these trousers like they were sausage casing, feeling uncomfortable and grumpy and taking it out on Andy when I should have been thinking of nothing other than our trip of a lifetime.

                                          

Don't worry folks, this story does have a happy ending. I had an epiphany on the road to San Francisco about a month in to our US tour and bought myself some rocking Athleta trousers that made me feel great, even with their size 12 tag. A few weeks on I went even further and ditched some more unflattering old clothes in Flagstaff and stocked up on a pretty dress and some flattering shorts and a new shirt. I felt great, no matter what the label said. 
                                                       
  

It's still a battle. Being 5' 3" and curvy I've always yearned for that petite pocket rocket figure. But it's just not me. Sure I can whittle my way down there, but the battle to stay there and still have a healthy relationship with food and my body has always been a losing one. I have a wardrobe full of clothes back home that probably won't fit anymore when I return. But I'm excited to get clothes I don't have to fight to get into! It's time to stop trying to shrink away and instead to be me - healthy and happy at size whatever. 

                                                    

Have a good day all. I'm off to get some food as we are cooking for our Aussie friends we met in Brazil tonight. Bangers and mash. 

Watch out for my next post later this week where I'll be giving you ideas for quick, healthy breakfasts at my dear friends Rachael's request. If you have any requests for future posts, put them in the comments or email me at chillichocolatelover@gmail.com

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Life goes on

I'm back! Except I'm not there... Let me explain!

I took an unplanned break from blogging back in December when life was getting too busy and blogging was starting to feel more like a chore than a pleasure - so not the point. Things then really kicked into high gear after Christmas as we started counting down to our round the world trip in April. Between getting the house ready to rent out, making plans and moving in with Andy's parents for the final few weeks, blogging had nowhere to go.

Funnily enough many people asked if I'd blog while I was travelling but I really wasn't sure and didn't want to put any pressure on myself. And I hadn't really thought about it up until a sleepless night last night.


You know what? I realised I miss it. But, I want to make clear that this won't just be me blogging about my travels around the world, it will mainly be about what it's always been about - food and my relationship with it and my body. A never ending saga it seems! Looking back at my last few posts from December, and my initial post way back in November 2012, things haven't changed all that much. I'm still striving for that balance between enjoying one of my passions in life - great food - and staying fit, healthy and, most importantly, happy with myself and my body. What has changed since December is that I've recently, finally realised there will be no magical day when I wake up and everything is perfect. No journey is ever in a straight line. It has twists and turns, backtracking, pauses... Just like our walk around Palermo in Buenos Aires yesterday. Yeah, we got a little lost, but also found some places we wouldn't have stumbled across otherwise!

                                                 

                                                       

So, I can't promise to blog all the time, hopefully at least once a week, and will include food finds, tales from the road and my thoughts on body acceptance and happiness. I've discovered some really great writers on the whole body image and dieting thing recently, if you're interested you should check out Virgie Tovar, Isabel Foxen Duke and Kelsey Miller, who all have great blogs and Instagram feeds. If you want to keep up with me on Instagram, it's Jodea Pakos, plain and simple. And all our travel photos are under #jandyworldtour.

Be back soon!

PS Blogging on a iPad has it's limitations, so the pictures won't be of the the best quality or presentation I'm afraid! Please bear with me and check out Instagram for a better view of life on the road!