what did we pack/eat in Europe . . . part 2 of 2

For lunch, we’d stop at a market and buy something like this every day:

1.           6 nectarines

2.           6 large carrots (I never saw baby carrots in Europe)

3.           A loaf of whole grain bread (a comedy of communication errors in a bread shop in Paris taught me that “complet” is the word in France to describe whole grains!)

4.           Some local cheeses and mustard and tomatoes for the bread (read John Robbins’ Food Revolution on how European meat/cheese is highly government regulated and not full of antibiotics, steroids, infected pus and other lovelies, like the U.S. products contain)


We’d wash the fruit and carrots, toss all the stuff in a backpack, and stop in a park somewhere to eat each day,  like on the steps of the chateau at Versailles in the photo below.   Part of the fun was going in the little local grocery markets to see what they have.   In Barcelona we bought loaves of the most amazing fresh-baked 6-grain bread just across from our hotel, every morning.   Finds like this make you feel at home in a strange city and add to the sense of discovery and accomplishment in your travels.


And dinner we would eat in a restaurant.   I’m certainly not going to take my kids to Italy without letting them try gelato, and pizza!   (Of course, the pizza bears no resemblance to what is offered here in the U.S., is much better for you, and you can get many lovely vegetarian pizzas, one of the most popular being topped with mounds of raw greens.)   Ditto Barcelona, where we enjoyed the paella (vegetarian, of course) and gazpacho.   And France?   I did not, myself, try the white bread (I’ll tell you why tomorrow) but let the kids do it once because my husband thought it was somehow important in their “experiencing” France.   And of course they did fall madly in love with crepes (I’ve never tried that hazelnut/chocolate spread, Nutella, in my life before–I’m going to have to make a mental to note to stay away from it, because it was yummy on crepes).   So, we did indulge, but always with a big green salad (never forget Step 2 of 12 Steps!).   The Europeans have lots of watercress and other lovely greens that we consider exotic here.  

Amazingly, even without my green smoothies, and despite a few servings of gelato and crepes, I came home the same weight and had lots of energy each day for our adventures. 

What did we pack/eat in Europe . . . part 1 of 2

I saw a request by a blogger while I was gone for even more detail in the question I’m always asked: what do you eat?   This blogger asked, what EXACTLY did you eat, where were you when you ate it, how much time did it take in the kitchen?   I think she wants to know–do you live the crazy, on-the-run life I do?   (And therefore, GreenSmoothieGirl, can I really believe what you say?)   I had to laugh because I had just logged all the soccer games and practices for this week, at 4 a.m. having woken up early due to my weird jetlagging.   Every single day this week, Monday through Saturday, we’ll be running around to games and practices!   (And that’s just soccer–obviously our life consists of more than that.)


I’ll work on that blog in the near future, thanks for the request.


Europe was a tricky trip and I want share how we went and ate well (5-10 raw vegs/fruits daily) without hassle or excessive expense.   We had NO green smoothies because you don’t go to little European hotels with an appliance, nor will an appliance company cover your warranty if you blow it out with the weird plugs in various countries.   Plus, we had flights from Venice to Barcelona, and Barcelona to Paris, with strict weight requirements.   A turbo blender is just too much weight.


We packed these things in our suitcases to take with us:


  1. Powdered greens.   This saved us, nutritionally, in the absence of GS!   I’d stir a spoonful into a glass of water for everyone, morning and night.   Learn from my mistake and double-bag just the powder in freezer bags so it doesn’t break on the return trip.   (This will save space, versus taking the whole bottle, anyway).  
  2. Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat, Costco Granola, and Rice Dream.   Double bag the rice milk in gallon Ziploc bags–two fit perfectly in one bag.   Remove the Grape Nuts from their boxes (we bought the big Costco ones) and add another layer of protection with a gallon freezer bag.   You don’t want these things exploding in your suitcases.   Taking these whole-grain packaged cereals lets you avoid being at the mercy of “continental breakfast,” which is never, in any country, an option that will give you sustained energy for the day.   Even restaurant breakfasts (which take time from your touring and are expensive) are pretty much never nutritious.   We bought bananas in the market, upon arrival, to add to our cereal.
  3. Paper bowls and plastic spoons (for breakfasts).
  4. Snacks from Whole Food Farmacy.   All of their many snack foods are delicious, and they just changed their business model (away from multi-level marketing, thank goodness, to simple direct sales) and were therefore able to lower prices across the board!   That’s rare nowadays with food prices just going UP, so jump on it.  

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about lunch and dinner.

Are Europeans healthier than we are?

So as you can see, Europeans have fast food.   McD’s is found in 10 locations in the very hip and cosmopolitan city of Barcelona, for instance.   They don’t have nearly as many chains or locations as we do, though.


I have a weird little game I played in airports and train stations all over Europe and in the U.S.   I counted groups of 100 people and keep a tally of how many of them are overweight/obese, just to compare countries.   I don’t do this to be mean-spirited, nor do I think it’s the most statistically sound experiment ever.   People in airports are probably leaving out the oldest citizens, for instance, creating something less ideal than a true random sample, although this should be uniformly true everywhere, so the results are skewed across the board.   And I can’t ferret out the tourists from the natives.   (However, very few Americans are traveling in Europe now to skew my results, with the weak dollar, I found.)   This is what I found very consistently (and I repeated the experiment over and over to see if any of my samples of 100 are outliers):


United States:   over 50% are overweight, some obese (this is not new information to you)

France, Spain, Italy:   about 15% are overweight

England:   about 20% are overweight


Italians in northern Italy are big meat eaters (the southern Italy diet, famed as “Mediterranean,” is much more plant based).   Everywhere you drive in the top half of the country, corn fields are growing–not to feed the people, but to feed the livestock (and ethanol refineries, I’m sure).   The French really do eat a lot of white bread products.   They have junk food accessible everywhere.   Why, then, are the vast majority of them thin and relatively fit?   These are my theories.


Where Europeans have Americans (and Canadians and Aussies) beat:

They have portions under  control, they eat more vegetables, and they exercise more (lots of walking and bike riding going on)


Where Americans have the Euros beat:

Less smoking  

Europeans are certainly struggling with high levels of heart disease and cancer.   Their smoking rate is incredible, whereas that’s the one marker that the U.S. has seen strong gains: our smoking rate has gone down consistently during the past two decades.


Honestly, I think part of the portion control is achieved simply because they CAN’T AFFORD to eat more!   Overuse of anything is rather socially taboo (those tiny little Smart Cars are everywhere), and a can of Coke is $4-$5 (about 3 euros or so) at any gas station.   And with exorbitant fuel costs, the Europeans long ago started riding bikes and walking.   In Italy, all the cars are tiny.   I never saw a single Suburban or Expedition, or even a Honda Pilot like mine.   No wonder the birth rate is negative in that country–the cars won’t fit any children!   Roads are narrow and would never allow the big honkin’ cars we drive here.   And the shops don’t have parking–I never saw a Walmart or its trademark small-city-sized parking lot, though I’m sure Walmart exists  somewhere in  Europe.

I’m buying a scooter next spring to reduce my usage of nonrenewable energy.   (I already drive the highest-mpg mid-size SUV on the market.)   I’m going to learn to buy a bag or two of groceries and put them in my scooter on my way home from the gym or work every day or two, rather than the usual bigger shopping trips.   My inlaws can’t believe I’m going to ride to the university 20 mins. away on a scooter, but I’m going to try it.

Today, the first day of school, my children are walking to school, and they’ve been informed that’s our New Normal.   We’ve always been pretty green, with the plant-based diet, gardening, composting, avoiding packaged foods, and eating weeds.   But I’m inspired to get GREENER.    Do you have two garbage cans going to the curb each week rather than just one?   If so,  you might want to consider doing the same.   What’s cool is when you can send your one garbage can out every OTHER week because you use so little that comes in boxes, cans, and bottles.


Is Europe healthier than the U.S.?

Ciao, hola, bon jour, and cheerio!   We had an amazing time in six countries of Europe (Slovenia and Croatia not represented in those greetings, because I wasn’t there long enough to pick up any vocab).   But we were so ecstatic to arrive home to our FAVORITE country that we almost kissed the dirty floor of the airport!


I’m now more thankful than before for abundantly available ice, predictable traffic, nonsmokers, free and easy-to-find public restrooms and drinking fountains, and my dollar actually BUYING me something, just to name a few.   I have newfound respect, however, for conservation–of space, resources, water, land, and gasoline.   I think I may never complain about $4/gal. gas again, since Europeans are paying $9/gal.!


You will be thrilled to know that a certain brand of American capitalism is alive and well in Europe (see photos below in Florence, Venice, Versailles, Barcelona, and London).   So if we’ve so successfully exported some of the worst parts of our culture, why are they still so much healthier than we are?   More on that tomorrow.

GreenSmoothieGirl Law of Physics (how will I find the time?) . . . part 2 of 2

Back to how it can be true that if you spend energy, you get energy:

First, are you a parent of at least two children, or are you close to someone who is?   Many first-time parents are so smitten by their firstborn that when they begin to consider bringing another baby into their family, they fret:   “I’m not sure I can love another baby as much as I love this one.”   Surely this baby has claim to ALL my love, new parents think.


Our concrete, finite minds not used to “abundance thinking,” sometimes can’t at first bend around the principle that spending can yield dividends.   That is, there’s more to be had, good things multiply, scarce thinking breeds actual scarcity, and abundant thinking breeds actual abundance–in relationships and the world.   Give some of your love and your CAPACITY for love multiplies.  


And so, parents take the leap and find, virtually universally, that they can, in fact, love another child as much as the first.   So much love that it makes your heart nearly burst sometimes.


Second, with the Olympics going on, one might want to consider Olympic athletes as well.   We love Michael Phelps, of course.   But Dara Torres is my all-time Olympic hero: because she is my age (41), and she silver medalled twice as of this writing, all while nurturing her competitors and chasing a toddler and proving to all the disbelievers that she achieved her athletic prowess and physique naturally.   She had earned a few Olympic gold medals before at least one of her 2008 competitors was even born.   While I was in Paris, I watched her on TV take first place in her qualifying heat after delaying the race to help another swimmer (who went on to take second) with a torn swimsuit.


Do Olympic athletes have less energy because they give so much energy to their sports?   No, they are fireballs of energy because energy begets energy.   When they turn their attention to other things–volunteerism, media, business, family–they have plenty to give.   And it doesn’t stop there: thousands of others are affected by their energy.   I have a big photo ripped from a magazine of Dara Torres taped right next to my computer screen.   Her arms, holding her daughter, are ripped and beautiful, and inspire me to push myself lifting weights.


Third, if you’ve ever owned a real estate property or started a company, you know that spending money on improvements often brings more business and profits flooding in.


So it is, with the time you will spend in the kitchen preparing a GreenSmoothieGirl diet.   That time will give back.   It will richly bless your life.   It will make possible your achieving goals you’ve had on the back burner a long time.   Go make it happen, one recipe at a time, just one step to whole foods at a time!


I’m back from Europe! The GreenSmoothieGirl Law of Physics. . . part 1 of 2

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: How will I find the time to follow your program?

On this site, and in my book, I often preach to the unbelieving a certain principle.   It can be an uphill battle to get people to buy into my counterintuitive principle of physics until they give it a try.   And that GreenSmoothieGirl Law of Physics is, an expediture of energy yields more energy.


People are always saying to me, “I just don’t want to spend any time in the kitchen: I’m exhausted at the end of the day and don’t have the energy for it!”   Many folks have gotten in the “energy conservation” habit, of carefully doling out their limited energy for just the most basic of life activities (sleep, eat, work, start over), all while watching with great horror that energy pool ever shrinking.


Readers of GreenSmoothieGirl.com know what I say, and I will repeat it here.   A minute of kitchen time, eating the way I teach you to prepare food, yields two minutes of newfound energy.   Time freed up that you used to spend in a depressed funk, or worse, oversleeping.   Eating a GreenSmoothieGirl diet gives you quantifiable gains in energy that open up a whole new world of service opportunities, goal achievement, fun, the ability to invest in new and old relationships, and the disappearance of “energy conservation.”


And I say, like with spiritual faith, if you can’t believe that?   Just experiment upon the word.   Simply try it and tell me if I’m wrong.   Don’t do it for two weeks, where everything is new and at first things take you longer.   Commit to making my recipes for several months, because the learning curve flattens and you’ll finally understand what I’m talking about (as many have attested to in GSG.com blogs).   For anyone who begins this journey seriously ill, you may need to give this experiment a full year to see the gains clearly.  

You think that spending a resource, causing that same resource to double, is simply not scientific?   For the sake of the semantic debate, even before you put it to the test if you haven’t already, let’s compare it to three other arenas in life, to lower your cognitive dissonance.   Those three comparisons tomorrow.