Tag: puerto rico
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been coming to Puerto Rico to visit my family for years. Although the island is known for not being vegetarian-friendly, I’ve found ways to keep my diet–even when I’m surrounded by meat eaters! Here’s how I do it.
Keep Your Eyes Out for Health Food Stores
Surprisingly, there are tons of health food stores in Puerto Rico. If you’re staying in Dorado, I can recommend three that exist within a 10 mile radius, including Verde Natura, Essential Organics, and Armonia. They tend to be tucked away, however, so you need to keep your eyes peeled. My favorite health food store in Puerto Rico is Dora’s in Manati–although I know this is a bit far for most who visit and stay in San Juan. If you’re staying in San Juan, however, check out Superfoods in Condado or La Buena Mesa de Oscar in Rio Piedras, which also has a vegetarian cafe right next to it!
Stock up on These Puerto Rican Treats
Plantains: Sorry, I’m not talking about fried plantains or plantain chips (that’s not to say I didn’t have one during my trip…uh oh!) I’m talking about boiled plantains with no grease added. Plantains not only help with digestion, they also are high in calcium and have been proven to help improve brain functioning. Try blending some into Abuela’s plantain soup!
Avocados: Avocados in Puerto Rico are so delicious. They tend to be bigger and juicier than the avocados you find in the States. Not only that, you can find them anywhere. My aunt has a tree full of avocados that has been growing for years—talk about local! They’re also sold at about every fruit stand that you can find. This made eating very easy for me. Whenever my family planned to go to a place that I knew wasn’t vegetarian-friendly, I would always sneak in an avocado to add to a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. And with all the essential fatty acids, half an avocado was just enough to make me feel full and satisfied.
Cold Coconuts (Cocos Frios): It’s not rare in Puerto Rico to see a coconut stand while driving on the local roads. These are as fresh as they can get! Open one up and you’ll get a great dose of coconut water to keep you hydrated on a hot caribbean day.
Check out Places with Vegetarian Options
Casa Lola, Condado: Being that I have the most awesome family in the world, my cousin picked this place out with me in mind when he invited my family out to dinner. In addition to the normal Puerto Rican foods (fritters, pork, seafood, etc.) this restaurant offered some great salads and vegetarian options. I started my meal off with a salad and had a vegetarian platter with chard, asparagus, mushrooms, and vegetarian beans. Yum!
Café Berlin, Old San Juan: Although a little bit tofu-heavy for my taste, this little gem in Old San Juan has a full vegetarian menu with gluten-free options along with fish and meat options. I had the vegan “meatloaf” (made with rice, beans, and vegetables) and a house salad. Perfect for ending a night of strolling the cobble stone streets of the historic neighborhood.
There are so many places to get your sweat on in Puerto Rico. I definitely recommend taking classes atIt’s Yoga Puerto Rico in Condado. The studio is better than any New York studio I’ve been to and is just a walk away from the beach! You can also experience the beautiful scenery of the island either by running or hiking outside. On the days where I didn’t practice yoga, I would either hike or run in the nearby neighborhood, where I would frequently see reptiles, coquis, and beautiful greenery. Some great places to go hiking include el Yunque Rainforest and El Torro Negro State Forest.
I hope this helps you on your next trip to La Isla del Encanto!
Smelling the flowers at el Torro Negro. Such beautiful greenery!
2 cups of vegetable broth (my grandmother uses a broth cube—I would recommend using either a homemade vegetable broth or a store bought without preservatives)
1 slice of green pepper (optional)
1 dash of cilantrillo (optional)
2 plantains, mashed or grated
Boil the vegetable broth with pepper and cilantro , once it is boiled keep it on low heat
Take half a cup of the broth and blend it with 2-3 tablespoons of mashed plantains (depending on how thick you want your soup)
Add the plantain/broth mixture back into the remaining pot of broth, slowly stirring the broth on low heat for 10 minutes
Add salt and pepper to taste
What’s Great About this Soup
Although plantains in restaurants are usually greased and fried, plantains alone have many nutritional benefits. They are:
High in Potassium, which helps to keep us hydrated and energized
High in Tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce vitamin B6 and serotonin to regulate our moods.
High in Emulsin, an enzyme that helps with the digestion of carbohydrates.
High in Calcium, which helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis
This is a great soup to have after a long, active day to refuel and re-energize. !Buen Provecho!
Greetings from up in the sky!
I’m currently on my way to San Juan, Puerto Rico and am so excited to get some sun, family time, and relaxation before the new school year starts. My mother was born and raised in Puerto Rico, so I try to go there with my family every chance I get. While I love it there, the food options for me are not too plentiful—especially in comparison to New York City. In New York, I’m one of hundreds of highly health conscious individuals. In Puerto Rico, I’m one of the few health freaks on the island! But I embrace my title with pride. Here’s is how this health freak keeps her habits in a land full of platanos and lechon (fried plantains and pork).
A true health freak knows that intense packing is essential, unless you know you are going somewhere that has lots of options. Whenever I go to Puerto Rico, I come equipped with the following:
Dark Chocolate: So that I’m not tempted by flan and tres leches! My favorite brand is Lulu’s, which is made up of nothing more than cacao, coconut crystals, and vanilla bean.
Portable blender: I have a small portable blender (it’s the size of a travel mug) that I always bring with me when I travel. Even if I’m on the road, I can stop at a fruit stand and blend up a shake super easily.
Green vibrance packets: a mixed blend of different greens that replaces the green juices that I normally drink at home. Warning: These taste really bad. But they make you feel great once you’re finished drinking and are essential if you are in a place where there is a dearth of leafy greens. I usually cover up the bad taste by mixing them into a smoothie with almond milk, almond butter, chia seeds, and fruit.
Gluten-Free Rolled Oats: A quick and easy meal that can be mixed with hot water anywhere!
Digestive Support: I always bring extra reinforcements for digestion—swiss kriss herbal tablets, “eater’s digest” tea, tons of digestive enzymes, cape aloe, aloe juice, and natural calm magnesium formula. Digestion is going to be harder when you’re out of your comfort zone, so it’s better to over-prepare!
Double Supplements: When I’m on vacation, my body needs time to adjust—not only to different eating habits, but also to different time zones, sleep schedules, climates, and environmental pollutants. Although your regular supplement plan may protect you at home, you may need extra protection while you’re away. Take double the amount of supplements that you normally would take. Some essential supplements to have when you’re away from home include probiotics, glutamine, chlorella, and NAC.
Do Your Research
Believe it or not, there are food options out there for you. Even Puerto Rico has a few great spots for vegans, celiacs, and even raw foodists. If you’re travelling with meat/wheat eaters, make sure to note down where all of the essential health food stores and restaurants are located beforehand. That way, when you happen to be the area, you won’t be interrupting your friends’ day by going to those places. If you’re in Puerto Rico, the iphone Sal app is great for this purpose and will tell you which vegetarian restaurants are closest to you. More generally, happycow.com is a good resource for vegetarians, celiacs, and raw foodists anywhere. It allows you to check out all the nearby health restaurants in your area, along with reviews from other users on the website.
You’re on vacation. It’s okay to eat things that you normally would not eat. I certainly plan to eat a few tostones (fried plaintains) while staying with my grandparents. My grandmother makes them better than anyone else! However, you will not see me using this vacation as a free-for-all, where I all of a sudden down all the candy and greasy food in sight. Stick to those food items that are unique to the place that you are visiting—whether it’s your mother’s special lasagna or a French delicacy—and fill the rest of your diet with whatever nutrient-rich foods you can find.
Since you’re probably going to be eating some bad things, you may as well use some exercise to burn off those extra calories. Use the extra eating as an incentive to participate in some fun local activities. Rent a bike and use it travel to all the tourist sights, take a yoga class in a new language, or go on a hike where you can experience the local scenery.
Compliment Local Food
When I am on vacation, I normally find more pressure to eat things that I normally would never touch. Often I fear offending chefs or well-intentioned friends trying to show me their favorite food or favorite spot to eat. While my family is 100% understanding of my eating habits (my abuela even experimented to create a healthy plantain soup for when I visit—recipe coming soon!) in many cultures it is considered rude to turn down food. Although I want to express my appreciation, eating certain foods wreaks havoc on my stomach. White sugar is probably the biggest irritant for me. So rather than stuffing my face with flan, I’ll take one bite before spending the rest of my time gloating over its taste or presentation. I grab my camera and take multiple pictures. I tell my friends at the table that they must try some, and continually compliment the chef. Make the center of focus on the food, rather than on your choice to exercise restraint.
I hope these tips help you on your next vacation. !Buen provecho!
Taking some chlorella on my way to the airport. Chlorella is a great detoxifier because of the similarity of its composition to human blood and because of its unique ability to bind to and sweep out heavy metals from our system.