Category: Travel

Tropical Groove Smoothies

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I just got back from the island of Gili Air, a pinprick of land off the west coast of Lombok. Being so isolated and teeny, you can imagine the food in this particular place wasn’t so high-vibe. Not a raw food, vegan buffet in sight! Gasp! Somehow, I survived, har har, but what truly got me through were the smoothies. Every single restaurant and cafe, no matter how small and unassuming, had a long list of tropical blends to enjoy. I had it made in the shade, just sippin’ on my whizzed up fruits and ice. So simple, refreshing – it reminded me that easy edibles are sometimes the best.

When I got back to civilization here in Bali, I had a serious date with my blender. Nothing fancy, just local, seasonal, simple mixes to beat the heat. I came up with these two beauties, inspired by the foods and flora around me.

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The first smoothie is a Mango Coconut Jamu. Jamu is a traditional Indonesian turmeric tonic that has been made for centuries. With endless variations, some recipes including botanical ingredients such as flowers, fruits, seeds, bark, leaves, and roots, it’s fun to be creative with exotic blends, with a touch sweetener such as honey or palm sugar to mellow out the bitter edge. My version takes advantage of the newly-in-season mango (!!!) and fresh, young coconuts which are literally falling off the trees all around me. If you don’t have access to coconuts, just use canned coconut milk instead for a decadent, tropical treat. And as for the turmeric, use as much as you can handle. The recipe calls for only half a teaspoon of fresh turmeric, but I probably put in twice that amount in my own because I’m wild about that little tuber. Dried and powdered turmeric is fine to use too, just try to find organically grown if possible.

The second smoothie I made just had to be green, because this island is so inspiringly lush and leafy! I have been digging the traditional avocado-based drinks that are actually referred to as “juice” here, even though the avocado has been blended. They are thick, creamy, cold, and not overly sweet. My juice is spiked with a hearty dose of digestive ginger and tangy lime. If you want to get things even greener, toss in a handful of tender greens, such as kale or romaine and get glowing!

Either of these shakes would make a fabulous breakfast, as they are literally a meal-in-a-glass. They also satisfy as an afternoon snack, maybe split between two people.

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How to Drink Smoothies
Is there a big question mark sitting above your head right now? How hard is it to drink a smoothie?! Even though we may think just guzzling down a big glass of food is simple enough, there are in fact some ways we can optimize the digestion of these veritable meals-in-a-glass.

Smoothies are a wonderful way to enjoy a whole host of foods easily, as the masticating has been done for us. But, it is still essential to chew your smoothies! Why? Because digestion begins in the mouth and bathing our liquefied food in saliva is very important for the enzymatic action to take place. Especially for the first few sips, chew the smoothie or swirl it around in your mouth as you would any other food. This also sends a signal to your stomach that something good is on the way down and to prepare for the work ahead. It feels a little funny at first, but your tummy will thank you for giving it some time to put things in order before your smoothie arrives.

It’s also a good idea to avoid consuming really cold smoothies, as freezing drinks actually shut down our digestive system. A cold beverage will sit in your stomach until it reaches core temperature before moving onto into the small intestine, so the colder something is to begin with, the longer it will take to digest.

Once blended, smoothies look quite small, but remember that they are still a lot of food! If you were to sit down and eat an entire coconut, mango, and half a banana, it would take you quite a while. Smoothies are caloric and condensed, so keep that in mind when blending up your meal – a lot turns into a little.

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Living a in a tropical climate and being surrounded by all this incredible fruit has inspired me to do a mini-cleanse of sorts. I’ll be eating raw for the next three days, and even though I am practically doing that anyway, this is a conscious, and very intentional move away from anything resembling the ubiquitous white rice and occasional fried tempeh I’ve been enjoying (soooo good…). I just feel like a little freshening up and finding my balance once again. If you’d like to join me on my veggie and fruit feast, eat raw for the next three days and see how you feel! I’ll be enjoying these smoothies, simple fruit and vegetable salads as well as some of the other recipes from the site (here is a link). With the warmer temperatures and sun shining, it is a perfect time to step away from the stove.

I’ll be Instagramming my food during the raw refresher, so follow along my adventures here.

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Show me your smoothies on Instagram: #tropicalgroovesmoothies 

Recipes and Tips for Healthy Travel II

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First of all, wow. I won the Saveur award! Because of you! Seriously friends, I cannot thank you enough for voting, and for supporting what I do. This achievement means more than you know and I feel more motivated than ever to keep on going. I love this blog and knowing you do too makes every post all the more worthwhile. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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So, I am writing this from 30,000 feet in the air, somewhere high over the Middle East. The digital map on the screen in front of me revealing the names of cities I’ve never even heard of. It feels good to be traveling again in totally unfamiliar territory. We are off to Bali, my family and I. For six weeks we will be living there, tucked away in a rice field somewhere, completely away from the life we know in Copenhagen. We have never been to Asia before, and feeling excited for the adventures that lay ahead. It’s been a dream of mine to visit Bali since I was about 18, and I am sure that my high school self never would have believed that my first time going would be with my husband and baby.

This trip is not an epic one in distance per se, like the 38-hour schlep last year to Kauai, but throw a breastfeeding 5-month-old in the mix and suddenly I’ve got calorie and nutrient requirements totally un-fulfillable by miniature airplane meals. So what am I bringing along this time? Here’s my list:

Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Roasted Carrots (recipe below)
Curried Hummus (recipe below)
– mung bean and lentil sprouts
– cucumber sticks
– dried figs
– apples
Chunky Chocolate Buckwheat Granola (recipe here)
– Crispy Seed Flatbread (recipe coming!)

In all the years I’ve been traveling, I’ve learned quite a few things about which foods work on the road and those that turn into an unpalatable mess after a few hours outside of the fridge. I’ve also figured out which foods fuel the body in the proper way; nothing too heavy, as I’m sitting for most of the trip after all, and sticking to high protein and carbohydrate-rich foods definitely seem to be best for me. Including fruits and veggies with a high water content is also important, as nothing is more dehydrating than flying. Cucumbers and apples are always high on my list.

On today’s menu, I’ve got a pretty wide selection of plant-based delights, all quite simple, but that require a bit of planning ahead. The Black Bean and Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Roasted Carrots is delicious, filling, and travels very well. One thing I cannot stand about plane food is the singular texture (i.e: mush), so that is why my meals always cover the bases with lots of different consistencies: creamy beans, tender carrots, crunchy cabbage, and crispy toasted seeds. I don’t want my mouth getting bored halfway through my dinner, after all. If you are not a fan of cabbage, or you tend to become rather, ahem, windy, form eating it (soooo not awesome on a plane), choose a sturdy leaf that doesn’t cramp your style. Kale would be a good choice, or perhaps romaine. Do not choose a wimpy lettuce that’s going to wilt and goop up the rest of the dish – that would be ever so sad.

Although it’s great for a plane ride or road trip, this salad is tasty enough to make the small journey from your kitchen to the dining room table too. If you are going to make it for traveling though, I would suggest keeping the cabbage (or greens) on top of the salad, instead of mixing it in right away. This will help keep the cabbage crisp until you are ready to eat.

The Cripsy Seed Flatbreads are actually amazing, but I want to perfect the recipe just a little more before putting it out, so you’ll have to wait just a bit. Deal? Thanks.

I also made a really simple hummus for the trip, because dipping is fun no matter what altitude you’re at. I have been on a bit of a curry kick lately, so curried hummus is was – but feel free to toss in any spice mix you have, or just kick it classic style it with cumin. I do remember saying that curry was a no-no in my previous travel post, but I kept things pretty mild since I knew I’d be on a plane rubbing shoulders with unappreciative co-passengers.

My biggest piece of advice for getting any dip through security is to keep things thick. If your hummus is runny at all, or resembles “paste” they may confiscate it (and be prepared to throw out your container too if this happens). It can help to actually put the veggie sticks into the Tupperware with the dip itself, so the discerning agents can get a handle on the fact that you’re just an über-prepared foodie.

Prepare the salad and hummus well in advance of leaving for your trip – the day before is ideal. You need to make sure all the ingredients are cool before you make both dishes, so that they will keep for many hours outside of the fridge. If they are warm when you leave, they may spoil en route.

If you want lots more travel tips, check out my post from last year which discuses everything from avoiding jet-lag to how to make a thoughtful homecoming for yourself. Happy trails!

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Although my time in Bali is most definitely a holiday, I’ll still be blogging (can’t help myself!) and on Instagram, where you can follow my culinary adventures. Good grief, I cannot wait to EAT! I hope the island is prepared for me and my hollow leg.

If any of you have been to Bali, I’m totally up for advice, tips, recommendations on stuff to do, where to eat, etc. Let me know in the comments, and thank you in advance!

Until the next post, here’s to flying high with happy meals.

Much love and gratitude,
Sarah B

…and because I know someone will ask, my bamboo travel utensil set is made by To-Go Ware.