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It’s Spring: Let’s Eat Healthier

Spain olives tomatoes(1280x853)For us here at realfoodtraveler.com, spring time means more travel. Our editors’ calendars quickly fill up with travel across the globe and that can mean unhealthy eating. Like all travelers, sometimes we get stuck in airports with little or no food and resort to the unhealthy choices offered by kiosks and restaurants. Other times, especially after a long flight or train trip, we’re too tired to seek out healthy food options and eat whatever is easiest even if it means high-calorie snacks from the mini-bar or vending machines.

Then, of course, there’s the “Well, we’re here and probably only once. Let’s just eat it.” And that can mean anything from high-fat (and delicious) BBQ to fancy cream-filled pastries. For most, it’s the “what-the-hell-vacation syndrome.” For travel writers like us, it’s an occupational hazard.

Fish and veggies are healthy any time, including for breakfast.

Fish and veggies are healthy any time, including for breakfast. Photo BH.

That doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t indulge in less-than-healthful foods when we travel. We all do. But what’s more important is what we eat most of the time. If we eat healthful diets 25 days a month, our bodies can more easily fend off the ill-health effects of eating not-so-great foods when we’re traveling.

Recently, Public Television featured a story on the “Blue Zones,” places in the world like Ikaria, Greece where people often live long (90-100 years or more) and healthy lives. One of the secrets of Ikaria is that the people eat the Mediterranean diet, which research has proven to be one of the healthiest on the planet. The diet is largely plant-based with plenty of veggies and fruit and meat used primarily as a condiment. Whole grains, fish, beans, and healthy oils round out the diet. What you won’t find is a lot of white sugar, white flour, white rice, or highly processed foods.

With a few changes to what you’re eating now, you could improve your diet and your health and make those “travel food indulgences” have less impact on our health. So we asked our colleague Amber Alvi, a Mediterranean food lover who works for I Dream of Falafel, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago that features healthy Mediterranean and vegan dishes, to help us out with some suggestions. Here’s what she wrote. – Bobbie, RFT Editor

The Mediterranean Diet revolves around the classic foods consumed by the inhabitants of the Mediterranean region of Spain, Greece and Italy. It is a tested diet which has been proved to balance cholesterol levels and to reduce muscle and joint pain. It also enhances your heart function, brain activity and helps in losing weight.

As eggs are a major component of the Mediterranean Diet and Mediterranean breakfasts featuring eggs, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, whole grains and fresh fruits are a healthful option. Here are some interesting ways to have your delicious Mediterranean Breakfasts!

Eggs have gotten a bad rap, but they're an integral part of a healthy Mediterranean diet.

Eggs have gotten a bad rap, but they’re an integral part of a healthy Mediterranean diet.

Omelets

Eggs are rich in Vitamins A, D, and B-1. They can be a good source for proteins and are usually a main breakfast component. Make scrumptious—and healthier– omelets using eggs with a combination of vegetables like mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and potatoes. Sauté your desired vegetables for a couple of minutes before adding your eggs to them.

Another great choice are omelets or scrambled egges made out of eggs with leftover salmon and veggies like asparagus. Simply add salt, pepper and a bit of parsley for a delicious omelet ready in minutes! Use olive oil in place of butter for frying for a complete Mediterranean breakfast.

Vegetable and Goat Cheese Frittata

Frittats are Italian styled omelets with healthy ingredients like veggies and goat cheese mixed into the egg mixture and then baked. This egg option take a little more time to prepared than omelets or scrampled eggs, so you might want to reserve this ultimately delicious breakfast item for weekends and use up all your leftover vegetables, eggs and goat cheese. Bake your own Frittatas using your own unique combinations of eggs mixed with vegetables or even protein-rich fresh as chickpeas for your very own uniquely frittata.

Beans and fish, especially oily fish, are parts of a Mediterranean diet too.

Beans and fish, especially oily fish, are parts of a Mediterranean diet too. Photo BH.

Whole Grain Toasts Topped with cheese, nuts and fruits
Eggs aren’t the only breakfast option on the Mediterranean diet. Whole grain toast with small portions of chopped fruit mixed with low calorie cheese and topped with your favorite nuts is extremely fulfilling and healthy. This combination of healthy nuts, fruits, cheese, and whole grains will give you the required energy boost in the morning.

Smoothies
Don’t have enough time to make omelets, toast toppings or frittatas? Smoothies are easy-to-make breakfast for people on the go. Make your own smoothies by adding your favorite fruits, Greek yogurt, honey and some ice and whirring it all up in the blender. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, this breakfast smoothie will keep you filled up for hours.
By consuming these yummy breakfasts, you are sure to develop a healthy eating lifestyle which affects your overall daily activities. A fulfilling Mediterranean breakfast is sure to keep you on your toes throughout the day. – Story by Amber Alvi, Guest Contributor

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Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at realfoodtraveler.com.