Tag Archive: vegan

Eating Vegan in Central America

Vegan Breakfast in Nicaragua - beans, corn tortillas, watermelon and avocado
I am sitting in the Chiang Mai International airport waiting to board my plane to Kunming China to start my study abroad! My stomach began growling so I searched the airport for a cheap vegan snack. I bought some dried mango and seaweed crackers and began to think about the question I am often asked “How do you eat vegan whilst traveling?”. So I thought that I would reflect on my time in Nicaragua, and provide you guys a helpful resource for eating vegan in Central America! I have found that eating vegan can be difficult at times whilst traveling, but the hardest part it seems is actually at the airport! As most airport food is pre packaged I have struggled to find fresh salads or sandwiches that do not contain meat or cheese. Because of this I try to bring my own food to the airport, and I always bring A LOT because traveling makes me super hungry. My flight to Nicaragua was in the morning so I made banana apple overnight oats the night before to eat on the plane. They were soaked in almond milk with chia seeds and coconut and made a delicious breakfast waiting at the gate. I also packed two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, pretzels and carrot sticks for the day of travel. I was also able to find a great fresh fruit smoothie at the Houston Airport. Upon arrival in Nicaragua I realized that the food was very simple and had little amounts of spice or flavor. Because the country is relatively poor, meat is also a delicacy and luckily is not served with every dish. Restaurant employees did not seem to understand the term vegetarian so instead I said “sin carne, sin leche, sin huevos por favor”. I also had a guide that was very helpful in making sure my dishes were all vegan. Throughout my time I learned a lot of common dishes that are traditional and vegan that I will share with you! Unique foods and flavors in Nicaragua Plantains – taste like a cross between traditional bananas and potato. They are a great carbohydrate source and actually contain more fiber and potassium than traditional bananas. They are usually eaten steamed (looks like a cooked banana) or twice fried (looks like a smashed yellow potato fritter). Twice fried dipped in hot sauce is my favorite! Taro – is a root vegetable that is white/purple in color and tastes a like an over cooked potato to me. We ate a lot of boiled potato, which was great because it was very high in carbohydrates and low in fat. They can taste a little bland so I liked mixing them with beans and hot sauce. Chayote - is a watery vegetable that tastes a lot like a zucchini or summer squash. It is the most commonly grown vegetable in Nicaragua as it is native to the area and can thrive without a lot of water. It is the main vegetable in the diet of many poorer people living in rural villages. We often had it cooked in a tomato broth or steamed with other vegetables. Breakfast: Fresh fruit, rice, beans, baked/fried/steamed plantains, corn tortillas, avocado, corn flakes and soya milk.
Vegan Breakfast in Nicaragua - streamed plantain, peanutbutter, beans and pineapple

Vegan Breakfast in Nicaragua - streamed plantain, peanutbutter, beans and pineapple

Lunch: Rice, beans, plantains, taro, potato, sweet potato, salads, cooked chayote, carrots beets etc, fruit, fruit juice, peanuts and french fries.
Nicaraguan Vegan Lunchbox - Rice, root vegetable mash with tomatoes and salad

Nicaraguan Vegan Lunchbox - Rice, root vegetable mash with tomatoes and salad

Dinner: Rice, beans, plantains, eggplant ratatouille, lentils or chickpeas cooked in a tomato sauce, twice fried plantains and salad.
Vegan Dinner in Nicaragua - Rice, eggplant and lentil tomato stew and salad

Vegan Dinner in Nicaragua - Rice, eggplant and lentil tomato stew and salad

Snacks: Taro/plantain/banana/potato/vegetable chips (non-queso flavored), fruit, “tea” cookies, oreos, wafer cookies, dark chocolate, peanut butter and lots of interesting fruits.
Orange flavored tea cookies that just happened to be vegan!

Orange flavored tea cookies that just happened to be vegan!

Natural spicy yuca chips

Natural spicy yuca chips

Crazy cashew fruit - sweet and juicy

Crazy cashew fruit - sweet and juicy

Overall, it was very doable and being vegan did not hold me back at all! The food in Nicaragua was simple but delicious and I appreciated the fact that they didn’t use excessive amounts of oil in their cooking. I enjoyed talking to people about being plant based as it came up a lot as eating in big groups is a large part of traveling. If any of you have any questions about veganism or traveling please reach out!

What’s up with adult coloring books??

As some of you may have noticed, numerous, shiny black and white coloring books for adults have been popping up in bookstores around the world. I can’t even tell you how many of my friends received one of these trendy, self-help books for Christmas, myself included. Are they a gimmick, and what are they even supposed to ‘do’ to you? The main idea behind the coloring book is learning to engage in mindfulness. Basically, by letting your mind focus on keeping your brightly colored pencil within the lines, you are less likely let your mind drift to topics that may be worrisome or cause stress. The therapeutic properties of art have also been realized as often emotions can be expressed through art that cannot be said aloud. Dr. Joel Pearson, a brain scientist at the University of New South Wales in Australia said, “Concentrating on coloring an image may facilitate the replacement of negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones”. During our hectic, crazy, wonderful lives it is increasingly important to have some relaxation time, or as I like to call it our RE-CREATION time. I often find myself rushing through the day from class, to meetings, to the gym without feeling like I have even had time to breathe. By taking time to sit down and focus on a menial task like coloring, I find that I can feel my physical and emotional batteries recharging – allowing for emotional space that enables me to recreate myself into the person I want to be.
My morning oatmeal, coffee and coloring

My morning oatmeal, coffee and coloring

Have you ever been engaged in a conversation with someone but you can’t take in anything they are saying because your internal monologue is running haywire? I often suffer from this and feel horrible because I am not giving that person the attention they deserve. By focusing my mind through an activity like coloring or meditation I am able to take more control over my inner voice and allow it to be quiet while I am interacting with others. This all sounds well and good but stopping for 15 minutes during the day is hard. I always feel like I could, or should, be doing something more. But it helps me to remember that without a break, I will not be able to be fully present in the moment and that I will be so much more productive in the long run if I don’t run myself dry. Overall, I do believe that adults coloring books can have huge benefits toward our mental health and wellbeing but they are definitely not for everyone. They are expensive, a little bit heavy and awkward to carry around, and would make me feel like a 5-year-old if I were to whip one out in class. BUT, creating space for mental recreation during the day is hugely important and should be as essential a part of our daily lives as going to the bathroom. qgsaykg3cf22v3agzewv That being said, there are many different ways in which you can calm your mind. Here are a few with which I have been successful…
  • Mindful walking – go for a 15 minute stroll and try to notice things stimulating all of your different senses. Do not check your cell phone or social media. You can try setting a timer too so that you can resist the urge to check your watch.
  • Crocheting – I know it sounds like an activity for grandmothers but its very cheep and requires little attention so that your brain can rest.
  • Slowly sipping a hot drink – I often take myself out for a cuppa during a busy day. Putting down all of the work in front of me and simply just enjoy the feeling of the hot liquid filling my belly is very satisfying.
  • Reading a novel – there is something so magical about getting lost in a book. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good educational self-improvement book as well, but sometimes I think it is important to delve into a fantasy world for a few minutes.
  • If you are interested in coloring but aren’t ready to invest in a book, here are some free images online you can print off and color in to try it out.
I hope you all have a beautiful week, Robin