Posts Tagged With: food

First “Friday Fitness” post!

JOIN ME! I’ll be posting every Friday on our journey to a healthier state of mind, body and reaching personal best! There’ll be realistic weekly goals to challenge ourselves with and tools to help accomplish them! I’ll be sharing my voyage with recipes, workout ideas, struggles, successes and (the dreaded) transitional before/after photos.

It’s time. I’ve previously shared about my journey through the health and fitness world primarily through posts about healthy food choices and workouts while traveling. Some of my favorite memories bring me back to a race in Barbados , yoga in Panama, Paddle boarding and a hike in Tobago, and amazing treks of Machu Picchu. These were all incredible times during my peak in fitness and now I’ve come full circle back into a wonderful world of new challenges. Let me quickly explain from the beginning.

I was born a lovable 8 lb ball of happiness and sprouted into a round head balanced on top of a set of thighs.

Fast forward through the adolescent years and I developed into the “healthy” or “big boned” cousin (a term used to describe chunky kids who aren’t built to be naturally thin). Although some thoughts would cross my mind after comments made, I never really concerned myself with the issue. I liked food, especially ice cream, as well as playing outside, giggling with my friends and making a mess with art and crafts. I was a kid.

Teenage years brought boys, school challenges and a variety of other things to distract me from self-image issues. Even though I’d still compare my body to other girls (who didn’t?!) it was nothing of extreme or enough to break my focus of surviving the teen years of school. It’s hard enough just being human with new hormones stuck in a few buildings with a thousand other irrational, emotionally driven pre-adult creatures.

Between 18-21 I truly didn’t feel the shift (captured in the first 3 photos from the collage below). It was like I had the opposite body image than most girls. I was gorgeous! I was also gaining a solid 15 pounds a year without even realizing it. 45 pounds heavier than healthy, I began to take a closer a look at this human suit I had to carry around. It wasn’t so much of how I looked in a swimsuit or what guys would like, as much as it was me needing to change my habits. I had watched a majority of my family members yo-yo diet my entire life and I wasn’t about to follow in their footsteps.

I started to slowly lose weight due to small diet changes and a walk every morning, it felt amazing! This was all done slowly and properly in regards to mainstream options. No diet pills, no eating disorders, no obsessive physical training, just a transition in lifestyle.

Once I achieved a consistent routine, my body settled into its comfort zone, “it’s” comfort zone, not mine. This is when I went to the local gym and spent a portion of my savings to get a trainer. “Teach me everything!”… and so they did. I dove in head first to the length of dedication that Zack, best coach ever, finally suggested I branch out on my own as I’ve exceeded the need for his assistance. And so I did.

Here’s a glimpse at the 40lb transition. Going from 30% fat to 18%

My new life was amazing! I felt unstoppable and ready to take on the world. Ironically, in my own little way, that’s what I did. This is when herhappytrails.com began and my big blue backpack took flight for the first time.

During the 6 year journey around the world my body naturally transformed according to my current behavior. I ranged from super strong while trekking parts of South America I shriveled down to nothing while recovering from a parasite in Malaysia , fluffed back up in Europe during the pints-o-beer at Oktoberfest then lost it all once landing in Japan. Needless to say, I returned to the states and the weight just seemed to fall into place. Some “places” I didn’t enjoy, but it was all necessary.

During my tiny days, my female cycle had completely vanished and I was told by several doctors (both western and homeopathic) that the chances of me ever carrying a child full term, let alone getting pregnant, was slim to none. For 8 years I held this belief with me. To be honest, it didn’t really bother me. I was single, traveling the world, loving life and had no time for things such as marriage and babies.

Enter Matt Stone.

I met my husband on a trip back to the states while visiting my mom. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve seen that journey unfold. The reason I bring it up is because during this time, I started to involuntarily put on (necessary) fat that produced more estrogen. It started my cycle back up! It was like my body knew what was ahead.

This all brings me to the point of this entire post. First comes love, then comes marriage , then comes baby in the baby carriage! I hope at least half of you have chanted that on a playground somewhere.I was going to be the cutest, most fit and active prego I could be, I’m sure like most of us dream of being, that was until I was put on bed rest. After denial, refusal and my own little pity party, my world switched focus from selfish body image choices to health and protection of me and our unborn baby. No running, no working out, not even a walk beyond the mailbox. I’m still amazed I kept my sanity while losing strength and gaining cushion.

Now we have the little light of our lives and the current reason (excuse) I have adorable love handles with squishy arms to match. No more bedrest! Of course I wouldn’t trade my post prego body for the beautiful addition to our family and bla bla bla… but let’s be real, this fluff has has got to go (as well as this robe I’ve been living in!)

Confession: I’m using this blog and your attention to hold myself accountable while hopefully inspiring one, two or a hundred of you to do the same. If it’s the last 5 pounds you’re after, the first 50 or simply the ability to finally run without sounding like an excited pug, I truly hope you’ll find some encouragement here. I plan to be real, raw and transparent through it all. So authentic that I’m not even going to post a present pic today. So there. Na-ner Na-ner.

Lets ease into this week with your first challenge, JOIN ME! See that cute little button that says “follow” on the bottom of the screen? All you have to do is enter your email… no payments, no rights to your first born, no advertisements, just an address that can be notified when a new post has been published. Then you can comment, ask questions and help me pleasantly plow through this chapter of life. I thank you in advance!

Categories: Baby Talk, Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

7 years ago today…

What were you doing on this exact date 7 years ago? I was zipping up my backpack to load up before my mom dropped me off at the Sacramento airport for the first day of an unpredictable journey around the world. I can recall having no fear or at least no hesitation in the adventure I was about to embark on. Just excitement and a new found enthusiasm for life!

As each year unfolded and my passport filled to the rim (with about 80 stamps!) I encountered new friends, adopted cultural traditions and continued to allow my mind to expand. Sometimes it’s surreal when I look back on the photos as it usually feels like I’m talking about someone else from a book I read or movie I saw. If you want to see a clear layout with links of my first exciting year on the road, take a look at the 2012 archives!

I was going to make this post about some of my favorites from around the world, cuisine, music, architecture, etc. but as I began to write I felt more drawn to explore what kind of lessons I gathered from a variety of places. Could be that I’m 9 months pregnant and my sensitive hormones are on high, or simply because I’ve never really stopped to ask myself such a question.

So Erika, where did you learn some significant lessons and how did you walk away from it a better person?

PERU – Although I visited several different cities throughout the country, a little village has always stood out to me. I rarely go back to a place I’ve been, but the magnetic pull was too strong for me to ignore in Huambutio. I was invited to volunteer there in a variety of things from teaching English to painting walls, cooking and even to coach gymnastics.

The lesson here was simple, appreciation for the simple things.

Sounds obvious or cliche, but there were a few events that triggered this conscious thought. First was the toothpaste. We taught the kids how to make their own toothpaste (that they got to take home) and the importance of dental health. The enthusiasm and gratitude they showed was outstanding! Something we may all take for granted or even see as a thoughtless item we look for on sale at Target, but these children guarded their portion like it was gold. Makes me wonder if they had ever used any… ever. Next was meal time. The children’s breakfast everyday was 1/2 of a hard boiled egg with a scoop of plain oatmeal (not your Starbucks brown sugar, toasted nut and cranberry shenanigans, but warm oats and water). We would divide an apple into 1/8 slices in order for everyone to get a bite as a snack and occasionally got to accompany it with a few pieces of toasted corn. Lunch and dinner was whatever we picked that day from the garden. A clear memory I have was the evening they said we were goin to make corn bread. Now, I was aware enough to not aimlessly look for a box of ready make Betty Crocker, but I was on the scout for cornmeal and the rest of the ingredients. I can’t remember how long they let me look before informing me that we actually have to go pick the corn to start the process. After I was done blushing, off to the garden we went! An experience that made every bite of that bread savored as if we had spent hours preparing it… because we did!

I suppose all of this hit me harder than I was expecting when I flew out of Peru into the states to visit family. My first stop was Dallas, Texas… home of everything huge! I had my apple bits, a few nuts and some cash to get me buy as I plopped down in the food court during my layover at the airport. A family sat next to me who didn’t go out of their way to be discreet. The children were clearly mad at the toy they got in the happy meal, a meal that they didn’t want to finish for whatever reason. After fits and French fries on the floor, the meals went into the garbage. I’m not claiming that we need to starve to appreciate fullness, or go without toothpaste to love a good sale at Target. I will admit however, that I may have judged this situation in the moment, but looking back now it was an opportunity that invited me to reflect on my own behavior. Had I carelessly disposed of food that could of been leftovers or compost? How many times did I complain, especially as a child, about the items in front of me with no gratitude that I even had options!?

Moving from food to activity, we ventured to the outdoor area and I was pleasantly surprised at the creative use of items that would typically land in the trash. Used plastic containers, snack wrappers, laundry bottles, juice boxes, warm out shoes and more. I loved it!

This experience as a whole opened a new part of my character to this day (even ask those close to me), it’s left me very aware of waste, unnecessary abundance and a love for keeping things simple. I am that weirdo that has 1/4 of an apple in my fridge with full intentions of eating it. I order a to-go box with my meal whenever we enjoy the luxury of eating out. I choose not to go to Costco and buy a village sized pack of paper plates on sale because I “might” need them someday. By no means am I claiming some sort of award winning lifestyle, just sharing the lesson that 7 years later still sticks in my everyday existence. And now with a little girl due any day, I hope to carry this in our family and raise a grateful human that appreciates her surroundings and has gratitude for our simple luxuries.

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Here comes the bride! 9-28-17

The term destination wedding refers to a location outside of your hometown that generally involves a gorgeous landscape in a distance place. Typically it lands at a snow capped mountain resort, inside a foreign castle or in my case, on a stunning tropical island. I called Barbados home for just long enough that it really wasn’t a “destination wedding”, however for a handful of our guests, it most certainly was!

If you’d rather just skip to the amazing Wedding video, click here!

Let’s begin with the landscape. Well, for starters it’s a beach!! We chose a quaint little surfers bar overlooking the southeast coast called Moonraker at Surfers Bay. It offered a partially covered outdoor seating area with a U shaped bar and an open section for my favorite part, the dancing! Our guests had the option of kicking their shoes off and walking in the sand, dancing on a wooden deck or socializing around an oversized bonfire. So we had love, earth, wood, fire, water, sun, stars, open air and an abundance of positive energy from all of the friends and family that gathered… a recipe for the perfect wedding.

Accommodations – Surfers Bay restaurant and bar was conveniently on the property of a colorful hotel called The Moonraker.

The wardrobe – Most of you have read a story or few that included my dear friend Bree. From our adventures in Chiang Mai, Thailand to her first visit to Barbados, she’s been a beautiful addition to my traveling adventures. What you may not of known is that when she isn’t backpacking, she’s an incredible fashion designer that has even worked in NYC for Ralph Lauren (friend bragging moment). As her gift to me, she designed and tailored my gown start to the very last pin before I walked the aisle. Matt wore a classic beige jacket that was once wore by his dad who was there with us in spirit.

The jewelry – I felt so honored to walk the aisle with an arm full of authentic bangles and an ankle decorated with jewel covered bands, all from India (another gift from Bree and her family). My wedding ring set is a combination of Matts opal birthstone and a diamond band given to me by his mother, a ring that was once given to her by his father…. again, I’m honored. The unique funky earrings? Those were $7.99 from Claire’s (a handy accessory boutique in the states).

The flowers – Instead of pre made bouquets or red roses, I went to a local florist (the day of the wedding) who so graciously allowed me to pick 12 flowers from a variety of local bundles in their back freezer. I don’t know too many businesses elsewhere that would of been so eager to help a last minute Gypsy bride.

The ceremony – my walk down the grassy aisle lead me to a dozen of my dearest girlfriends from around the world, each holding a single tropical flower. As I hugged and thanked them for their friendship, attendance and love, I collected each flower leaving me with a bouquet tied up by a strip of lace that was left over from my dress. This was all being serenaded by Matt on the guitar before he passed it along to come and greet me for the rest of my walk. The service was guided by our dear friend Derek who peacefully spoke about higher connection and divine love. We said our own vows, exchanged rings and sealed it with a kiss.

Drinking and dining – The Bajans and their heartfelt gifts. Instead of presents we asked each local guest to bring a dish to share. (If you’re wondering what the island cuisine consists of, take a moment to check out the posts Welcome to Barbados, let’s eat! and Mr.Delicious doesn’t serve pig tail . Our wedding spread ranged from traditional recipes to creative desserts and most definitely extended beyond what any catering company could of offered. Drinks? Not a dry mouth in the place, if a guests didn’t bring food we invited them to bring a beverage to place on the open bar. Wine, champagne, cases of local beer, liquor, juice, soda and what Barbados festivity would be complete without rum punch! Música! Personally speaking, I can survive any party regardless of food, drink or decorations as long as I have happy people and good music. As if our plans couldn’t of gone any smoother, in walks Dj Trev! He perfectly mixed every genre we wanted to hear, left out all of the songs we didn’t want and had a dance floor that never went empty. He was the icing on our wedding cake!…and the party kept going… and going! I’m so grateful for the experience and love we were able to capture, I’ll hold it dearly forever!

…to be continued.

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yes please, but why not both?

Ok, I know I’ve been slacking on the posts lately but let me explain why and catch you up. I’ve temporarily moved into an extended living situation on my favorite island of Barbados. My sweetheart of a friend chose to broaden her experiences away from the island and give Help-exchange a try! If you’re not familiar with Helpx, it’s a key part of how I’ve been able to travel for so long on a “backpackers” budget. I explain it in more detail in the post How do you afford all that traveling. Anyway, Maria asked for my assistance in planning her journey and thus she’s now volunteering on a farm in Hawaii! Me? I’m house sitting for her and taking care of her two paw babies. Quick tour of my (her) house starts with the outside.  I live in the upstairs with that sweet balcony!

 The top photo is looking left back towards the driveway and main the road. The bottom pic is looking in the direction of the south coast.

 A quick peek around shows you a few of her amazing decoration choices, items that I’d have in my place too! 

   

 Then there’s my temporary kitty kids totaling in with 8 legs, many whiskers and 2 sassy attitudes.  Meet Regina and Anastasia. Please feel free to pet them (if they’re in the mood) and don’t dare ignore them (if they want attention) and definitely don’t expect to type at the table or do a floor workout without them doing everything in their power to distract you. 

 
Time to welcome my first guest. Remember Carina?  The precious German girl I met back at Oktoberfest in 2011 and have traveled with ever since. Our adventures range from Germany to North America with a little pit stop in Amsterdam and many memories made in Costa Rica. Now we add Barbados! 

 

The past two weeks looked like this…

Food! Of course I got her to taste all of the local delights from fish cakes and rotis to doubles and Mac pie. She didn’t shy away from the rum punch nor did she decline the opportunity to try pudding and souce (thank you Ryan!) She saw the fresh farmers market and tried a bite from the drive thru at the popular Cheffette (thank you Alex!). What holiday would be complete without a liquid beverage of choice, I offerred a fruit smoothly or Bloody Mary.  Typical Carina response, “Yes please, but why not both”? 

    
   
A fish cutter from Cuz and pit stop at good ol’ Mr. Delicious before saying hi to Coconut Chris. 

    
 
I snuck her in to what I’d like to claim as my own personal hidden gem (that in actuality is a popular shop for the locals) to enjoy a piece of heaven form the ever changing menu. Another trip to Cafe Moya is a success!

 

We treated ourselves to a day at Accra Beach hotel and brought along some German games. Wouldn’t you?! 

 
Did she make it to the beach? I can honestly say I lost track of how many times this girl found herself with red shoulders, sandy toes and a huge smile. 

    
 

There’s no way I’d let her leave without experiencing Cool Runnings (thank you Annika and Robert!) and of course my favorite Tuesday night plans of gymnastic (thank you Shane!) Live music at Mullins Beach bar (thank you Dwayne!) and the Surfers Cafe (thanks Bodie!). We also watched a BVB futbol game (thanks Marvin!) and had some girls night out (thank you Annika, Irene, Monica and many more)!

   
How did we get around the island (if our amazing friends weren’t able for a lift)? Only another experience that one must encounter while visiting.  The local transportation! She expressed that it was like being on a carnival ride with the lights, music, people and incredible (ha ha) driving skills.

 

You’ve seen this familiar palm tree in many previous post.  This time the landscape makes an appearance with a duo handstand! 

 
Lastly, she was one of the bright smiles in the last post, Ms. Barbados, Queen of the sea in which we experienced the annual race around the island!  (Thank you Stewart, Jason and ALex!)

 
Palm trees, sunsets and sandy smiles pretty much sums up our unforgettable time on this magical island.

    

 
Last stop is the airport in which we were both departing on the same day.  Her heading back to the one degree temperatures of of Bochum Germany and me… Well, you’ll see! 
 
Carina, you hold an undeniable light that is constantly illuminating the world around you. Your sincerity, passion for life, and genuine nature has been (and still is) a magnetic quality that I miss when you’re gone. Thank you so much for the years of tummy twisting laughter, hours of silly games, moments of connection and the depth of friendship that I truly hope others get to experience. You are one of a kind and I’m so grateful to call you my friend (or sister if you ask anyone else)! Cheers to us till next time… And who knows where or what we’ll be toasting!? XO

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

White Christmas… snow or sand?

Who do you spend your holidays with? 

Relative: a person connected by blood or marriage.

Friend: a person who you like and enjoy being with; one who is attached to another through affection.

Family: a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation (in my opinion it’s a combo of the above).

If I were to get a little emotional in my writing, I’d tear up as I tell you how lucky I am to have gotten to spend several holidays with some of the most amazing people I know. You’ve seen my dearest family in Oklahoma in which this time of year calls for freezing rain storms and an abundunce of sweet treats. Then there’s my incredible mother who so eagerly makes every occasion so special with our time in Florida. My childhood friends in California never fall short to extend a welcoming invite to spend the winter days with them as seen in the holiday 5k run and Dream-catcher with the hawk. I’ve even been fortunate enough to have celebrated abroad like St.Patricks day in Argentina, Thanksgiving in Japan and the unforgettable Easter in Panama.

This year I wasn’t in Florida with my mum for the actual holiday but it wouldn’t seem complete if I didn’t mention our Christmas festivities (which is summed up by the photos below). I love you mom!  

 

Christmas in the Caribbean is surprisingly more similar to what I knew as a child back in the states.  There’s jolly carols playing in most of the shopping areas with random decorations lining the malls and public buildings. Store attendants have Santa hats on and St.Nicholas may appear randomly throughout the weeks leading up to the 25th.  If I had to outline the differences from what I can remember in the cold USA to the island life now, it’s obviously the weather and possibly the stockings.  Aside from candy, we got gloves and mittens, flannel pajamas and little trinkets.  Here they get Catch bars, sunglasses, flip flops and surfboard wax. Instead of snow angels, it’s sand angels and the pine trees that are brightly decorated in the front windows have been imported from overseas, instead of hand cut down on a visit to the mountains. 
Here’s a tiny snip of some of the scenes around here on the magical island of Barbados.

   

In regards to dinner, the typical meat served around here includes fish, ham, turkey or good ol’ fried chicken. The sides range from macaroni pie, sweet potatoes, plantains, greens, boiled vegetables and other random family recipes. If you’re lucky there will be some fried okra, homemade cassava rolls and breadfruit! Like a bit of spice? I wouldn’t pass on the local pepper sauce! Is your mouth watering? Check out all of the posts listed here for a much clearer canvas of the Bajan food that I have fallen in love with.  

 This Christmas I was welcomed into a variety of meals, toasts and family affairs that left me overflowing with love!  

In respect of all lovely people I encountered and homes I visited, I’ll keep this portion private and simple. (I also fear that if I begin to mention all the names of the hugs that I got to embrace that I’d leave out someone and we don’t want that). So for what it’s worth, here’s a just a small bundle of an entire day of joy! 

 I’ll close with some fun by taking a look at past and present winter photos. Wonderful to think that while some are strapping in snowboards, others are on surf boards and when a bunch of you decide which scarf to wrap up in, others are debating on which swimsuit to wear. Warm veggie soup verses a freezing fruit smoothie, snow boots or sandy toes… The list could go on and on!

  

    
 

  Ok, so the 25th has passed and all is quiet on the island… 

                                                       Yeh, if you’re the only one that lives in a cave! 

Next post will expose what is now one of my favorite events that takes place on December 26th, look out for Boxing Day!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birds have the best view

There were so many magnificent spots that Adam, Chastine and Halcyon shared with us, that I’ve decided to bulk a bunch into one post. Sit back, keep up and enjoy!

Fort George was once used as a signal station back in the early 1800’s and now hosts as a historical site looking over Port of Spain. After seeing the incredible view, it’s no wonder this was the prime lookout point for any possible invasions.
   

  

      
Also a perfect spot for a picnic… and a handstand.

  

This is a large tower nearby that granted another spectacular view. We were warned to keep an eye out and tonot “hang out” up there. Apparently there are sketchy people that have been known to come out from the bush and attack onlookers. Excuse me, say that again? No way! Oh well, up the tower we went!

  

The biggest challenge was dodging the bird droppings below your feet and falling from above.  

    

Thank you Chastine for the quick girls trip venturing to the capitals city streets! Downtown Port of Spain was similar to most cities with discount stores offering clothes, fabric, phones, plastic toys, jewelry and more.  We were in and out, so here are just a few photos I snapped during our jaunt.
      

Fast food, street food, full restaurants and coffee shops offered a variety of options if you needed a snack break. We opt for sharing a Double. Just like other foods, it seems like each vendor varies in quality, flavor and texture. Some of the fried bread is thick and are almost paper thin. The channa mix inside ranges from runny to almost paste like. Today we both enjoyed the flavor and texture of this one!

Fun fact “Double” is for the 2 pieces of wrap. You can choose to have a single or even a tripe if you want! 

 

Another pit stop was to a local food court called the Breakfast shed. It offers typical Trini cuisine in a court that reminded me of an outdoor cafeteria. 
   
I went with fish stew and salad with pepper sauce. Delicious! I’d never turn down a chance to try veggies. Here we have provisions which is starchy vegetables like pumpkin, cassava, plantain and potato. 

Chastine ordered Oxtail. Yep, that’s exactly what it was… tail of an ox. No thank you. Along the side is Calalloo (one of my new favorites) over a dense spongy cornmeal bread (not my favoite) called coo-coo. 

 On a different day, we all headed south for a quick foodie request that allowed us to try a handful of Trini-Indian bites. My favorite was a crispy spinach, fried dough mystery-of-a-treat with a scoop of channa in the middle.    
  
We shared a variety of sweets just for the fun of it. None of them pictured below struck me as amazing, but certainly worth a try!  

    
Awh coconut water with a side of jelly! Just like my favorite coconut stands in Barbados, you collect the water and ask for the jelly. Super serving of electrolytes and major hydration, yes please! 

 

I’d like to wrap up this post with random shots taken from the passengers seat this week.  In no specific order… here’s more of Trinidad! 

    
   

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Bridgetown Vs Bridgetown Market

Located on the southwest coast, Bridgetown is the capital city (and only city) in Barbados.  Like most cities in the world, you’ll find an array of contrasts within the busy streets. New cars and old bikes, historical sights next to booming businesses. There are street vendors selling colorful fruit, fresh veggies, snacks and random trinkets right outside of clothing shops, hair boutiques and popular mall stores. Casual cafes to nice restaurants sit along the dock offering local plates and if you’re looking for fast food (served with a side of greasy guilt) you can opt for one of the not so fast food joints on the island… Chefette, Burger King or KFC. 

FUN FACT: Barbados is the only country in the world in which McDonalds opened and closed due to lack of customers. The popular chain barely survived 6 months!

    

    
Have a sweet tooth? You can always find a bakery or local sugar shack but in this heat, the popular choice is anything cold, preferably frozen!   

If walking doesn’t suit your day, there’s never a lack of taxi’s eager to give you a lift. This cheerful cab driver was fine with us declining a ride, however was very dissatisfied that my head wrap didn’t have a bow in the back. He took it upon himself to make sure “dis angel sista gah-de-bow she deserve”. Thank you for brightening my day kind sir! 

 
We had two random priorities that consumed some of our time during our stroll through the city. First, my dear friend Shanda wasn’t going to put her poor feet through another step of blisters. Lucky for her, there’s several shoe stores conveniently located within the city. Success! 

 
Secondly, a handstand. In the years I’ve been enjoying this wonderful country, I have yet to snag an upside down smile in the Capital. Completed!

    

  
Thank you Shanda for sharing your creative photo abilities. Check out this cool shot! 

 

Moving on to the Bridgetown Market. Not to be confused with the capital city, this annual event happens in the final weekend of Cropover. With 3 days of jam packed entertainment, local cuisine and a variety of shopping, it’s known as one of the largest street fairs in the Caribbean. 

 Along the famous Spring Garden highway you’ll find a wide range of authentic Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken, macaroni pie, fish and chips, fried plantain as well as smaller vendors with local fruit drinks and baked goods.  

 This was our view in either direction where we sat to eat. You can imagine the contrast between this angle and the vibrant street behind us.  I suppose that’s just one more thing I love about this place. 

Once you’ve had your fill of edibles, there are plenty of items to wander through as you get lost in the colorful stalls lining the highway. If shopping is your intention, just look for the brightly colored stalls inviting you in for a stroll through unique products. Jewelry, bags, clothes and like items to plants, herbs, fruit and veggies.
   
   
 

If you walk down the paved road, you’ll be tempted to chip away to the soca music or at least stop and watch the ones dancing in front of the speakers. No joke, this fella was gettin’ down for the entire time we were there! 

 If you’re keen for more traditional tunes, just follow your ears to the small stage located behind the rainbow stalls.
 

So when you’re on the island during the entertaining week of Cropover, I’d suggest making time for a walk thorugh both the capital city as well as the annual Bridgetown Market.  I’ll leave you with a shot from our walk home. Hard not to smile, right?

 

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Welcome to Barbados. Lets eat!

Before Shanda arrived, I had collaborated with my island peeps and made a “must eat” check-list of the tasty local foods.  Some are my favorites, others are just necessary to experience.  Lets start down the edibles in no specific order.

First up is fresh coconut water with a side order of jelly.  No folks, this isn’t the carton of imported water that you buy at your city store. This is water from a young coconut picked right here on the island! The jelly?  That’s my favorite part!  It’s the flesh that hasn’t matured to a firm texture yet. The nutrient density and benefits of this duo is magnificent! Not to mention one of the most hydrating items on the planet.

   
This next one made the list due to its popularity amongst the locals and for the recent exposure on the Todays show. The owner and operated named Cuz is known for his “All in one”. A soft bun hugging a grilled piece of fish complimented with cheese and a fried egg.

Friendly note to anyone makng their way to this blue shack: If the line is long, order quick and get out of the way. If he says “no egg”  don’t give him attitude or question it, just take what you get and move on!

Cuz’s All-in-one (minus the egg)… check!  

    
Next up, doubles! These are most definitely one of my favorites.  Typically a Trinidadian treat, these small little roll ups can be found in a few spots around the island. The most popular and traditional version is two baras (fried flat bread) filled with curried channa (chickpeas).  You can branch out and top it with cucumber, mango chutney and a spicy sauce.  My mouth is watering just explaining the goodness that comes from this West Indies delight! Today we’re eating from Pat’s, you can find her on the south coast across from Accra Beach.  

   
Marconi pie! It’s probably exactly what you think it is… Macaroni and cheese held together in a casserole styled pie. Easy cheesy, right? (Awful pun intended) 

 
Fish cakes is another common find around the island. Inexpensive, easy to eat and generally pretty tasty… If you like fish, bread and fried things.  

 
Moving on to the famous, for good reason, Roti’s! I’ve mentioned them before in several previous Bajan food posts and now it’s Shanda’s turn to give ’em a go! There are several restaurants that deliver a solid Roti with different choices for ingredients, today we chose to eat at Chutneys on the south coast. Mine had curried lentils, okra, spinach and pumpkin.  The one pictured below is chicken and potato with okra.

  
 

You’ve got to remember my favorite cafe in all of Barbados.  I did an entire post on it last year called The best not-so-kept secret, Cafe Moya. Shanda and I took a walk and enjoyed a shared brunch.  I ordered a falafel filled cassava crepe and she went with a guava and cream cheese pastry.  Delicious!  

  
She also fell in love with the local Mangos.  If you’ve never had a mango that just fell off the tree (literally), you haven’t  tasted the true flavor of these tropical fruits.  I did a handstand next to the tree to give you an idea of just how massive they can get.  Also, check out the sweetness dripping from earths candy! 

 

We can’t leave out the Vitamin C power-house of the Bajan cherry.  For any details on this beauty, check out the recent post titled Happy as a cherry!  
Last up is what the locals call a sugar apple. I feel like any fruit with the word “sugar” in it is bound to be sweet and tasty… and it is!  Ripe is when it’s soft and opens with the most gentle of pressure.  If you look at the inside, nature has already divided it up into bite sized little pieces for you.  So scrumptious! It reminds me of the cherimoya I fell in love with from years past! 

 
Click here for all the other mouth watering posts from the beautiful island of Barbados!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My favorite Cambodian dish!

Once upon a time while volunteering in Cambodia, I took a walk in a local market to see what my tummy could find (shocking, right?). I rounded a corner and spotted out what appeared to be one of my favorite vegetables with some sort of goodness in the middle. Here are the actual photos from the quaint little market outside of Phnom Phen.

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I looked around for a seat, quickly realizing that the pint-size stool at my feet was the prime location to experience the meal I was about to order. Squatting low with knees in my chest, I pointed eagerly at the dish and singled for one slice, followed by my palms together in gratitide. Considering I was the tallest, whitest lady at the miniature table, I was being observed by several locals for my reaction to the first bite.

With the toddler spoon that matched my shoebox chair, I scooped up a bite and gave it a go.

How to make best friends in a foreign market:
Step1. Order something they don’t expect you to get.
Step2. Try it in front of them.
Step 3. React sincerely.

It didn’t take but a second for me to realize I had found my new favorite treat. Needless to say it became a daily routine to greet my new friends, squeeze into my usual seat (visualize Will Ferrel sitting in the classroom in the movie Elf) and indulging. Was this lunch… dessert? A meal or a snack? I have no idea but it was delicious!

When arriving back into the states I started research to find something that would closely resemble the magical taste of pumpkin custard or Lapov Songkya (ល្ពៅសង្ខ្យា).

To be honest, I have yet to find a recipe but I’ve had fun trying! Here was my most recent attempt (attempt: an act of trying to achieve something, typically one that is unsuccessful or not certain to succeed.)

Ingredients:
A buttercup squash (Pumpkin, Kombucha, Delicata, etc.)
4-5 Eggs (I used whole and some whites)
3/4 cup Coconut milk (it suggests cream or full fat, I used lite)
1/3 cup Sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
1/2 tsp Salt
A dash of Cinnamon if you’re feelin spicy
Optional: In Cambodia they will often put shave ice and coconut over the top and drizzle with condensed sweetened milk. (See photos above)

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Cut open the top of your pumpkin the same way you would for a Halloween carving. Take a spoon and gut your squash. For the sake of my sanity, please save your seeds and eat those too… They do not belong in the trash! Thank you.

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Mix all of the ingredients saving the eggs for last.

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Grab a double boiler and fill with an adequate amount of water. Crank the heat until it’s boiling. Place your squash in the over sized steamer, cut side up. Poor the liquid into the hollowed out pumpkin and close the lid.

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Lower the heat and let the baby cook until the custard is cooked thoroughly and the pumpkin is tender. Remove and let cool.

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This is the part in which you eagerly slice into as you contain the water in your mouth before giving this amazing dish a try…

Or in my case, you slice into it and have all the undercooked insides come pouring out into the table as your heart breaks into tiny little hungry pieces. I’m not sure if this failure was the specific recipe, the substitutions I made or in fact, that I actually didn’t follow the recipe.

I have you know, I ate the pumpkin separately with dinner and enjoyed every bite! I took the insides (what should of been custard) added oats and ground flax seed, then poured it into a baking dish and made scrumptious bars out of it. Problem solved.

So, if you want to try this Cambodian delight, I highly suggest you google it yourself and find a recipe that you think will be golden. When you find it, let me know!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A taste of memories

First off, I’d like to deliver my love to everyone during this holiday season. If you’re on a tropical island somewhere or shoveling snow, I wrap my thoughts around you and send a huge, happy hug!

Now if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed the quantity of posts slowly decreasing to few and far between. Naturally, going from a volunteer based backpacking lifestyle to an extended visit to the states, my daily routine has relaxed into an enjoyable job and reuniting with old friends.

Confession time: I miss blogging!

So here’s the deal, since I’m choosing to stay in the states for a bit longer (I still can’t convince the airlines to let me volunteer for free flights) I figure I’d post about the random events, products and people that are surrounding my daily environment.

To kick off this new chapter of herhappytrails, I’m going to show you an international market that we have right here in our own backyard!

Located at: 10971 Olson Dr – Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

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I’d like to think it was developed for quirky people like me that truly enjoy getting lost abroad discovering new items in local markets. (See collage below)

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However, after walking through this 80,000 square foot building, I realized it’s home away from home for many international residents. It’s a perfect place to gather traditional ingredients for tasty recipes that you generally can’t find at regular shopping stores.

Let’s take a walk!

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I’m grateful to have traveled enough in which several of these items were familiar to me. So familiar that I actually got choked up with flash backs of the journeys in which many of these treats were a part of.

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Would you like your seafood packaged, fresh, or extremely fresh?

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After you check out, you’re conveniently located in the new food court. I say “food court” lightly as this doesn’t have Kentucky Fried Chicken or a Pizza Hut, but an assortment of baked international goodies and a few restaurants offering unique menus.

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I have yet to mention that my partner in crime for the day is my dear friend Varee. If you’ve been following since September of 2012, you’ll recognize her smile from our adventure in Switzerland together!

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Our choice of lunch? I went with a popular Korean dish called Bibimbap (which was delicious!) and she chose a warm Vietnamese Pho noodle soup. For dessert we bit into a red bean stuffed mochi ball. Oh sweet memories of Japan!

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I leave this post with an adorable holiday house made from Pocky packages.

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Merry days to you all!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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