Eating right while traveling internationally . . . part 3

On the cruise, of 841 guests, fewer than 5 percent were Americans.   The vast majority were Europeans and Aussies, more than 50 percent of the ship from England.   (I know, I know–you’re mocking me for how much I love weird statistics, I get it.)

My friend Shari and I were each told once that we lack “diplomacy” by a Brit–because we were so hyper and excited to be there.   Okay okay, fine, it’s because we are loud Americans!  We got off in 8 port cities to tour, and people paid about $100 USD for each tour.   I was astonished, repeatedly, that the Europeans with us routinely STAYED ON THE TOUR BUS at really cool sites, like Fort Santiago in Manila, full of scary dungeons and a real-life moat, where the national hero Jose Rizal took his last, incarcerated steps before being shot by a firing squad.

Why would these folks–literally a majority of the bus–not even get off the bus at many of the sites?   Wait for it.   It’s certainly not because the tour guides were bad, because they were great!  At Marble Mountain in Da Nang, Vietnam, everyone got out to buy marble statuettes in the store where incredible artisans make gorgeous things from the marble mined there.   But they got back on the bus, or dropped out after the first flight of stairs, when we climbed 156 really steep steps of the mountain to an incredible Buddhist temple.   The tour guide at the top asked if we wanted to do more climbing to see even more cool stuff, and the three of us jumped at the chance.   An unbelievable view, and this temple in a deep cave where American bombs had opened a skylight as people huddled down there during the war.

Of a full busload, those who went on could be counted on two hands.   (The ones I cheerleaded on, saying, “You can do it!!” were up there with us, and I felt bad when it came time to go back DOWN the stairs–British Maureen, in her 60’s, was such a trouper.   My friend Shari and I let her lean on both our shoulders to get down, least we could do since I was the leader of the pep squad who conned her up the stairs!)  So here’s the kicker.   The vast majority of these people who paid a mint for an amazing vacation and the MISSED IT were unable to walk short distances because of . . . a lifetime of poor lifestyle choices.   I would estimate that more than 85 percent of the folks on the ship (most of them retired) were overweight, many of them obese.

On display daily were plates full of bacon and eggs for breakfast, fish and chips for dinner, lots of coffee and booze, too much toffee pudding, lots of cigarette smoking—and raw vegetables and fruits too rarely.  I feel bad for them.   They missed some cool stuff!   My tennis-pro friend Shari and my daughter Libby and I pumped up those stairs and would’ve wanted more except for the 90 percent humidity (Vietnam is the hottest place I’ve ever been in my life).

Taking 12 steps towards a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle isn’t necessarily so you can live forever. (Everybody will die sometime, yada yada, heard it a million times.)   It’s so that whatever years you DO live are great ones, full of vitality, learning, and positive energy.   In our case on this trip, finding cool buys in open-air markets, stomping through a rain forest, snorkeling in the South China Sea, boating through a mangrove looking for monkeys and crocs.   There’s so much to life, and it doesn’t have to end because of obesity, heart disease, and the other maladies currently destroying life for so many close to us.   If you’re in that boat, you can get out!   Degenerative disease CAN be reversed.   What I teach in my book and on this site is HOW.

This one hilarious lady named Jean in her 70s, was dancing, crawling around, jumping up and down, and staying up till 2 a.m.–she was thin, fit, and a total RIOT–everyone on the ship loved her.   I want to go out like a light bulb, like Jean, not a dimmer switch like the folks on the tour bus!  Go make a big quart of green smoothie for yourself, and put a quart in the fridge for tomorrow, while you’re feeling motivated!  

Eating right while traveling internationally . . . part 2

You can enjoy eating on a cruise without gaining 10 lbs.   Don’t think I’m on my high horse here, because if I told you I didn’t indulge on the cruise, I’d be lying.   If I said I didn’t eat gelato for dessert occasionally (it was an Italian cruise line), you’d write me off as some kind of nut, and I promise I’m not.   But I gained a couple of pounds, rather than 10, and it’s  half gone now with some seriously healthy “green” eating in the four days I’ve been back.

On the cruise, think of what you really enjoy eating that is GOOD for you but is kind of a treat, something you don’t often get at home.   Then ask for it. For instance, I love sauteed spinach and fresh garlic, with barely any olive oil, but I rarely make it.   I asked for it repeatedly at dinner when every other person at my table ordered a steak or lamb chops.   (It sounded SO good to me, probably because I’d been so long without my GS!)   Sometimes the staff indulged me, sometimes not.   When risotto was on the menu, I asked them to toss it with lots of steamed veggies instead of the seafood or chicken.   Think creatively when you order.   I confess I never ate any meat except for lobster night . . . and then it didn’t taste good to me with all the butter and bread crumbs, so I  ate only a few bites.   I asked for the salad first, since Europeans seem to like it last on the menu.

By the way, Americans don’t have the worst diet–the British and Australians do!   Americans were only 5 percent of the cruise passengers, so we spent lots of time with Europeans and Aussies, and their diet, OY!

You can always get a big bowl of fabulous fresh pineapple, mango, dragon fruit, kiwi, and beautiful exotic things in cruises anywhere near tropical places.   It’s a treat just to have it already cut up for you.   My daughter ate about a whole pineapple every day we were there because she asked for it three times a day.   I can’t believe she never got canker sores.

You can try different raw vegetables than the ones you eat at home.   When we got back from shore excursions, we were HUNGRY.   We went to the buffet and ate lots of raw, sliced fennel root and red curly kale in salads topped with no dressing except the three-bean salad, and a big bowl of fruit.   In Vietnam, they serve lovely salads made of the roots of the lotus flowers that float on the water.   This weekend I’m going to try to make a bunch of Vietnamese vegetarian fare (a cuisine I knew little about).   If anything’s really good, I’ll share it here.

You can also let the restaurants and maitre d’ on the ship know you’re a vegetarian.   Even if you’re  NOT technically a vegetarian, you’ll get wonderful food–variety, color, texture, flavor–asking for plant-based dishes.   I have never had more amazing food than I did in Vietnamese restaurants, where every dish was served with a pile of fresh mint, cilantro, and basil leaves.   I wrapped them in everything (wrapped a big lettuce leaf and lots of those herbs around spring rolls, for instance).   They make food so flavorful and unique–and different than what I eat at home!

Everyone at my table ignored the piles of mint and basil on their plates  and just ate the other food.   The people sitting next to me at one restaurant were served a young Thai coconut, doused in some kind of alcohol and lit on fire, filled with some kind of beef thing.   They all ate the beef and didn’t touch the coconut until I told them how to get the coconut out, and how good it is for you!   I couldn’t help but think, as waiters would take away their plates, that in the U.S., that much basil and mint would cost $20!   In Hindu parts of town, throughout Asia, restaurants are mostly vegetarian.

Eating right while traveling internationally . . . part 1

Hello friends–I am back from touring 8 countries in the Far East.   Getting trapped by the landslides that had downtown Hong Kong under water the day we left was pretty exhausting.   Fortunately, they held the flight (and 150 others) for a few hours due to the fact that lots of the crew and passengers were missing.   Had we not been delayed almost an hour due to bureaucratic red tape getting off our ship, we probably would have been in one of the taxis floating down the harbor.


Instead, thanks to a lot of good karma, we were just in a taxi sitting on the freeway for almost 3 hours (a  futile taxi ride that eventually dumped us in the subway and cost $650 Hong Kong Ding Dongs, which is what I called their money after giving up on keeping track of all the currencies we used).   We miraculously got home to Utah right on time.


I have to confess that thinking and studying about how to achieve ideal nutrition for my family and yours seemed indulgent and petty in the face of what I saw.   Whole families in the Phillipines living on top of flattened cardboard boxes in the median of the road.   Others living in corrugated metal shacks.   Very young boys out in the ocean next to our ship on dilapidated boats fishing, just for their families to be able to eat.   The Sultan of Brunei living in obscene opulence while his people go without.   A young couple who chased our bus for 2 hours hoping to sell us a t-shirt, just because I smiled at them as they sped along next to us holding up the shirts and signaling the price.


And what broke my heart in two pieces: crippled and blind people begging in the streets in Vietnam.   They told us not to hand out money or we’d get mobbed, but HOW CAN YOU NOT?   I cried every time I saw one of them.   Where is the fairness in the world that some of us get to overindulge on 8-course meals on a cruise ship, while others are in a third-world country, without arms and legs, begging for spare change?


I came home with renewed commitment to do more with my energy and financial means to help people in these circumstances.   Tomorrow about how to live low on the food chain, even on a cruise ship.   Consuming fewer resources helps everyone.

Fish, and taking fish-oil pills

For you fish eaters, the U.S. FDA stated in 2001 that fish with the highest mercury levels are tilefish, swordfish, mackerel, shark, white snapper, and tuna.   The lowest levels are found in salmon, flounder, sole, tilapia, and trout (though these fish are high in other toxins, in some waters).

If you’re eating fish-oil pills hoping to avoid heart disease, consider that you might be getting cancer-causing toxins in the bargain.   For instance, highly toxic PCBs have been found in Great Lakes fish.   Family Practice News reported in 1989 that you’d have to drink water from the Great Lakes for 100 years to get the same amount of PCBs in one serving of trout or salmon from those waters.   Similar findings link hydrocarbon pollution to fish in Puget Sound, Boston Harbor, and more.   New Orleans has extraordinarily high rates of cancer, where residents eat fish and shellfish daily.  

Farmed fish were thought to be safer, but recent data suggests other reasons to be concerned about the way fish bred in farms absorb toxins as well.

If you must eat fish, avoid those high in mercury.   A less risky way to obtain Omega fats is to eat flaxseed or flax oil, as well as a diet rich in a variety of greens and seeds/nuts.

Sprouted Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

These are yummy—enjoy!

Sprouted Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Serves 6-8

2 ½ cups raw, dry buckwheat

½ cup flaxseed

3 cups water

½ tsp. stevia powder (optional)

1 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 bananas

4 tsp. baking powder, aluminum free

2 cups blueberries

coconut oil

Soak buckwheat overnight, drain, and sprout in a strainer for 24 hours (rinsing about every 8 hours). Blend water, buckwheat, and flax in BlendTec until smooth. Add stevia, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, bananas, and baking powder, blend 30 seconds. Pour into bowl, add blueberries and stir by hand. Fry on griddle with a minimal amount of coconut oil. When pancakes are browned on both sides, they will still be gooey in the middle: this preserves much of the sprouted nutrition and actually tastes good, though you can cook them extra long if you want them solid all the way through.