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.

Kincade comes home from Scout camp, my best friend reminisces

I wrote last month about Emma coming home from girls’ camp.   Yesterday Kincade, who is one of my two children who is not always supportive of the “nutrition regime” around here, came home from camp.   Tonight at the dinner table this conversation ensued:


Emma:   “Mom, Cade thinks it’s stupid that we eat healthy.”

Cade (embarrassed):   “Emma!   I said that like a year ago!”

Me:   “I know that.   And I won’t lie: it hurts my feelings.   But I believe that someday, Cade’s going to thank me for the way I fed him.”

Cade:   “At Scout camp, where everybody was eating crap all the time, I really tried to eat healthy.   And even though it was better than everyone else, it was worse than how we eat at home.   I felt like crap the whole time.   Now that I’ve been home for a day eating like we usually do, I feel a lot better.”  

I’m in this for the long haul and I really believe that sticking it out, with our nutrition program that makes us different than most people, is so worth the sacrifices.   My best friend of almost 30 years (who makes “rainbow smoothies” for her own three children) wrote me today and said this:

“I thought the shout-out to  your mom  on your blog  on Mother’s Day was so cute.   Of course I remember when you were a teenager and you were so completely disparaging of those whole wheat cookies & carrot juice. . . but what teenager wouldn’t be?   And in the end it led you to where you are today.”

When they’re adults, our kids will have not only lots of nutritious plant food they’re used to and enjoy, and stronger bodies and minds—but they’ll also be smart enough to know why we did what we did, even if they don’t now.   I hope and believe they’ll be more likely to transfer that example to their own children.

Being sensitive to bad food–a blessing in disguise?

My teenaged daughter Emma came home from camp today.   After giving me a hug and saying hello, the first thing she said was, “MOM! Did you make green smoothies yet?   I neeeeeeed one! I missed them so much!”


Just now, at dinner, she sat down to a big plate of veggies and said this (I ran in to write it down so I could get it word for word):


“I am so happy to be home.   Every single meal at camp, I felt disgusting afterward.   I didn’t eat the meat, but you just couldn’t avoid all the junk.   It’s just not what I am used to.”   To support each other, Emma ate meals with a 12 Stepper mom/leader at the camp, another girl who is a veg, and one of Emma’s friends who loves animals and is kind of a “veg wannabe.”


I have always been amazed that some people eat toxic sludge, three meals a day, and they seem to be okay.   They’re not, of course–they’re ticking time bombs, and many of them, when you get to know them, suffer from multiple chronic conditions and a lack of energy.   But I once read that Heather Locklear (a size 1 who looks 10 years younger than she is and gets paid to show her skin and hair close up) never eats ANYTHING green and hates vegetables.   Some people don’t look, on the outside, like they’re unhealthy.


What gives?   Why do Emma and I feel so terrible the minute we eat bad food?


I think the human body, being fed the S.A.D. long-term, goes into coping mode.   It isn’t able to repair, regenerate, cleanse, or fight infection or cancer cells well.   It just has to survive, put all its energy into just completing required tasks.   Some people seem to be getting by, drinking lots of caffeine and eating lots of fried, processed, sugary foods and animal proteins.   But if you think about it, it’s SCARY that some people’s radar or response to bad food is stunted or damaged.     We NEED our bodies to tell us what’s good and what’s not.   It’s nothing to be jealous of.


On the other hand, a body fed a regularly pure diet of plant foods is more finely tuned.   All body systems are functioning at a higher level and the instruments register more sensitively.   If I were to eat a Krispy Kreme donut or two for breakfast, instead of my daily 100% raw-food breakfast, I’d be ill for hours, and it would zap my energy all day.   I might even have to just go to bed!   I haven’t eaten a donut in many years, just because the consequences aren’t worth it.   Donuts don’t even look good to me.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, what other people are “getting away with.”   It might seem like a drag that the whole police dept. appears to feel fine eating daily coffee and donuts for breakfast, while one donut would put me into a tailspin.   But I believe being sensitive to bad food is a blessing in disguise.   People who feel horrible when eating horribly learn NOT TO!  

How about you? Are you sensitive, or can you eat just anything and feel no different?

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.

Why people get upset when we eat right

Lisle and Goldhamer, in The Pleasure Trap, write about how to handle when people in our lives get upset because of our plant-based dietary habits.   Their claim that people get angry with us only because they are embarrassed (about their own eating habits) rings true to me based on my own experience.

If you choose to make good choices at a church or neighborhood barbecue, for instance, they know that you’re observing THEM make poor choices.   They fear losing status with you.   Lisle and Goldhamer suggest two ways of dealing with this issue.   I believe these suggestions are sound, and they additionally will strengthen your bond with those who would otherwise be upset by your choices.   These things are what I already do, and so I add to the authors’ suggestions a bit:

One, “bolster their status” by referring to the things you love about them, unrelated to their dietary choices.   This is easy to do and takes the awkwardness out of the situation of your drinking a green smoothie at the baseball game while they’re munching on beef jerky and Goldfish crackers.   I also make jokes about it: today at my son’s double header, when a mom asked her son if wanted some snack-stand nachos and Skittles, I said, “Or I’ve got a green smoothie here–you KNOW you want one, so don’t even deny it!”   (I’ve made lots of new friends at the ball fields and gotten them to try my green smoothies, only by being funny and casual about it, never by being dogmatic or pushy.)

Two, reassure them that you’re not “perfect” and don’t think you’re better than them because of your “superior discipline.”   Just show a little humility.

These authors claim this will ease the awkwardness of social situations that have the potential to make friends feel uncomfortable.   I would add, however, since I’ve been doing this for a very long time, that if you utilize these two principles, those same people may also come to you someday for help when they want to change their own lifestyle.   That can happen only if you’re loving and gentle.