Buon giorno da Italy!
Hi friends! I am currently in Palermo, Sicily and the food has been oh so fun and tasty!!! Italy does have a lot of what you’d expect-pizza, pasta, bread, gelato, more pizza and more pasta! BUT, I have good news…since I have no car, I am forced to walk around town and I have found there are plenty of little hidden gems that carry all sorts of healthier options for me to eat. It has been fun to indulge, because, hey, life is short and it’s all part of the experience of being here. But once you come down from that sugar high from 2 gelatos (or more) per day or caffeine buzz since coffee is so cute, tasty, affordable and easy to drink tons of here, it is not that hard to get into a routine of eating more healthfully even in the most tempting of countries. 😉
First off, there is one of my favorite pasta alternatives available in most stores I have found; COUS COUS! Cous cous makes such a versatile dish and you can cook it up in literally 10 min and saute your favorite fresh veggies with it. Then, you can top it with olive oil, which is to die for here! I swear, I could drink it by the gallon-it’s that good!
There are so many shops that carry just fresh produce, so go to town there and get creative by picking up any greens you can find and some fun, colorful veggies or even fruits that are in season to design a beautiful vibrant salad. My friend lives where there are fresh mandarins available, so she made a salad the other day and had a home made mandarin orange salad dressing! It’s all about using what is readily available to you, where ever you are!
Another friend of mine here has celiac disease and you can imagine how challenging this is in the land of BREAD (and gluten)! But, there are stores that do carry only gluten free products, even in Sicily! Switching to gluten free is another way to maintain weight and energy, even if you do not have celiac. It’s not a bad idea to lay off the gluten for a while and clean your body out since most processed products DO contain gluten (the protein in wheat products) and can cause many different ailments in the body…for more info on going gluten free, you can visit the celiac disease website at: www.celiac.org
Although gelato is a tempting dessert, and I do think it IS a better alternative to regular dairy ice cream, since it typically contains fresher ingredients, there is also an abundance of fruit here, which makes a fine dessert…as long as you eat it a bit later after dinner to avoid it sitting on top of some huge meal causing fermentation and then, sometimes gas and bloating.
Coming to a new place on vacation is one thing because it is obviously for a shorter visit, so we tend to go a bit crazy, which is what I did when I first got here…mildly…but when you are posted up in a place for a little while, which I am, you simply cannot take a ‘vacation’ mind set and apply it to your every day eating lifestyle. It is a bit of a challenge getting to know the language, your surroundings and getting familiar with different ingredients, but my credo has always been to stick to LOCAL and SEASONAL. You cannot go wrong if you eat what the locals eat. Of course, in the US, if we ate pasta and pizza the way the Sicilians do everyday AND sat in our cars or our desks day in and day out, that would be a problem. Italians walk a lot more than we do AND they are not under a lot of the same stresses people in the states are under. Family is numero uno here, and play time is essential, as well as rest time. Lunch is usually the largest meal here-NOT dinner. Things are different here and it obviously works because you do not see obesity, diabetes or other degenerative diseases as prevalent as they are in the states.
It’s all about awareness and concious eating. This is just advice for those who may be inspired to travel abroad and are wondering how you would stick to a healthy eating lifestyle…it’s definitely fun to eat local treats, but just come back to what you know is best for you. Have fun making different foods into healthful meals…in any country!