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

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Aug 24, 2008

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. 

Posted in: 12 Steps To Whole Food, Green Smoothies, Nutrition, Parenting, Robyn Recommends, Whole Food

12 thoughts on “what did we pack/eat in Europe . . . part 2 of 2”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We are going to be traveling and have become concerned of returning to

    bad resturant food (or even bad grocery store food) You have given me so many good ideas. Thanks.

    I do not have time to order Vitamineral Green, can this be bought in Whole foods or Vitamin Shoppe etc? Do you know?

  2. http:// says:

    I don’t think VMG retails there, but you can get another powdered greens product for your short-term needs. You can read in my reports how I looked at all of them, and they all have fillers or are overpriced, but I’d still choose one of them over nothing, easily!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This may sound juvenile, but what does VitaMineral Green taste like? Is it appealing? It sounds like a great thing to drink, but if you have to choke it down it most likely won’t work for me. I’m interested in trying it, so any input would be great.

  4. http:// says:

    Not juvenile at all. Nobody likes to eat yucky stuff! I tried a lot of nasty greens products, the worst being the ones that left a lot of gunk at the bottom of the glass. VMG is very finely ground and doesn’t make me gag, and I find the taste totally fine. It doesn’t taste like chocolate ice cream, mind you, but it’s kind of like liquid chlorophyll in water, if you’ve ever tried that–not worse than that. Neutral tasting, not bitter, not a strong flavor at all. Anyone else who has some (we buy in bulk in my local group buys) can give an opinion, too.

  5. just curious, and off topic,…way back when you wrote “the recalcitrant spouse” series, you mentioned that your husband would “give his two cents”…as i went back I never saw anything from him. did i just miss it or did it never happen? Just the fact that your husband thought the kids would be “missing something” made me think of it

  6. Sigh, I just blogged about Nutella last week. I found some in the pantry, but I’d never had it before so we ate it. And it’s deee-licious. Except American Nutella (suprise, surprise) has hydrogenated oils, so I found a recipe to make my own. It’s a bit of work, but heck, I’ll do anything to avoid hydrogenated oils (and maybe the work will make me eat less of it):

    Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (caramel base)

    Caramel instructions from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich

    Yield: about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups)

    1/2 cup sucanat, honey, or agave nectar

    1/4 cup water

    2 cups whole raw hazelnuts

    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I’m using raw dark chocolate cocoa powder)

    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    1/8 tsp real salt

    Preparation: Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Make the caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a 3- to 4-cup saucepan. Do not stir again during the cooking. Cover and bring sugar and water to a simmer over medium heat. Uncover and wipe down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush or a wad of paper towel dipped in water. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Uncover and cook until the syrup turns a pale amber. Test by spooning a drop or two of the syrup onto a white saucer. Swirl the pan gently, continuing to cook and test the color until the syrup darkens to a medium amber color.

    Pour the caramel immediately onto the lined baking sheet. Tilt sheet to spread caramel as thinly as possible. Let harden completely, about 15 minutes.

    Toast the nuts: Meanwhile, place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast in the oven until the skins are almost black and the meat is dark brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.

    To get rid of the bitter skins, wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Rub until most of the skins have come off, but don’t worry if some remain.

    Make the nut butter: When the caramel is completely cool, break it into pieces and pulverize in a food processor. Try to get the caramel as fine as possible at this stage (it won’t get finer once you add the nuts).

    Add the nuts and process until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Be patient; the nuts will go from a fine meal, to forming a ball around the blade, to nut butter. Add the cocoa, vanilla and salt and process until smooth.

    Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for1-2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-hazelnut spread before using.


    Please use whole raw nuts, and toast them yourself to intensify the flavor. Pre-toasted or pre-chopped nuts are often spoiled.

    To further intensify the nut flavor, use unrefined nut oil (for version 1), which is tan in color. Refined nut oils have the color and flavor removed. Peanut oil is especially cheap in Chinese supermarkets. I bought 20 ounces for $2.38! There’s a lesson: if you’re looking for a “gourmet” ingredient, try an ethnic market.

    To make any standard nut butter, use this procedure but omit the powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla and extra oil. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp granulated sugar. Try making your own cashew butter: you may never go back to peanut butter again!

  7. I make my own nutella as well but in a simplied version that probably has a less creamy texture but we love it all the same.

    Yield: about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups)

    2 cups whole raw hazelnuts

    1 cup raw agave

    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

    1/4 – 1/3 cup coconut/alternative oil combination

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    1. Soak overnight and dry hazelnuts at low heat.

    2. Process nuts in a food processor or Blendtec, until a paste texture.

    3. Blend in the oil, agave, cocoa and vanilla.

    4. Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for1-2 months.

    Great spread on the raw granola bars.  

  8. Anonymous says:

    just a weird question (probably not much traffic here now)-but is cocoa powder bad for you? is it fine without the added surgar to it? it’s not a health food is it? (you’re probably laughing at that question) i just see a lot of people use raw cocoa powder

  9. http:// says:

    Raw cacao is highly nutritious. Cocoa is processed and usually alkalized–if you’re going to get it, try to get the nonalkalized kind.

  10. My husband and I are going to Brazil for 10 days. I am vegan (he is not yet) and we are both completely grain free due to digestive disorders. Here is what is going with.
    2 baggies per day each of dehydrated veggie soup mix (just add boiling water and whala)
    two small thermoses to steep and eat our soup from
    2 tupperware containers of dehydrated crackers, he likes one kind, I like another
    1 snack baggie per day each of home made granola for breakfast with small almond milks
    1 bar dehydrated granola per day each for snack
    the location & directions to local outdoor markets/ ‘shoppings’ within walking distance from our hotels
    a backpack to tote our purchased fruits and veggies, and a small amt of veggie wash
    a kitchen set of small cutting board, knife, peeler and baggies

    People always want to know where we got our food. MMMM! From home of course! :0)

  11. Anonymous says:

    In response to Lynn’s great ideas, I was just wondering how you get on a flight with all of this . . . especially the knife and peeler?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Darrelyn – you can take a knife with you (or even a sword if you are so inclined) as long as it is safely stowed in your CHECKED luggage. Here are the TSA guidelines:

    Happy Trails!

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