Healthy Hostel Meals Part 5- My Favourite Healthy Costa Rican Snacks

I LOVE grocery stores, especially grocery stores in other countries.

Whenever we are in a new town, and I find a new grocery store, I am in heaven. I will spend so much time wandering down the aisles, looking at all the products, reading ingredients, and filling up my basket with all sorts of new things.

As a result of all this “research”, I have found a bunch of awesome healthy snacks that I’ve never seen at home.

Here are a couple of my favourite go to snacks here in Costa Rica:

Can't begin to express my love for these.

Can’t begin to express my love for these.

Suspiros: These calorie free meringues are AMAZEBALLS! Every year at Christmas, I make tons of cookies full of butter and sugar for Shaun, and I make Meringues made with Stevia for myself. They are guilt free, and still feel like a treat.

Well the lovely people at SweetWell (which is actually a Belgium company) sell a pre-packaged version of my Christmas treat. They come in Vanilla, Mint and Strawberry, and are a perfect sweet treat for dessert.

I can guarantee I’ll be lugging some of these home with me…although I’ll be lucky if they make it through the plane ride!

Veggie time!

Veggie time!

Natural Sins Beet Chips: There are some travel days where getting my servings of vegetables in can be a challenge. You can’t exactly whip up a salad when you are on an all day shuttle. On days like this, these beet chips have been a saving grace.

Unlike lots of the vegetable based chips you find at home, these ones are totally clean. The ingredients are just beets!

Natural sins also sells dehydrated pineapple,mango, orange and coconut, but I’ve steered clear of those, as I’m sure I would just eat the whole pack in one sitting!

Guanabana, you're my hero

Guanabana, you’re my hero

Pops GuanaBana Light Yogurt: Oh Guanabana, how I love thee. This yogurt is hard to find, so when I track it down, I always pick up a couple. Pops is a big ice cream chain here in Costa Rica, and although they make some sinfully good ice cream, they also have a great line of lighter products as well.

This yogurt has a rice tangy taste, with less guilt then the non-light version. I usually split the container in two and add it to my oatmeal in the morning. I know I’m going to miss this little beauties when I get home!

 

pipa on beach with straw

Pipas: Oh my Beloved Pipas, what am I going to do without you.Over the past few weeks, I’ve developed a plan of attack. I’m having a pipa every day until I leave. My thought process is that I will overdose on these awesome budget friendly, healthy snacks, so that by the time I leave, I won’t crave them anymore.

That being said, I can totally see myself getting home and buying whole coconuts in an attempt to recreate the magic. I wonder if Shaun will invest in the machete necessary to open them for me??

 

So there you have it, my favourite healthy snacks here in Costa Rica. What are you go to healthy travel snacks?

For more Healthy Travel ideas, check out my Healthy Hostel Life Page!

Pura Vida!

Kat

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

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Una Pipa Porfavor

 Before I start today, I wanted to let everyone know that I had the opportunity to guest post over at “Diana’s Costa Rica Blog”. Diana, and I have so much in common, it’s pretty amazing. Check out my contribution at: http://dianascostaricablog.blogspot.com/…On with the show!

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So I know coconut water is a “thing” back home.

I have read all about it. You know, electrolytes, post-workout charge up, hot yoga beverage of choice, magical elixir etc…I get it, but I just can’t do it.

Any time that I’ve thought about jumping on the band wagon, I’ve bought a little tetra pack, taken a swig, and then thrown it out. To me, it tastes like garbage swamp water.

That is, until I discovered the magic that is fresh coconuts on the beaches of Costa Rica.

I feel like I have the process of buying a “pipa” down to an art form. Since it’s becoming pretty much a daily occurrence for me, I figured I would share it with you guys.

Mom and I enjoying some Pipa's on Tamarindo beach

Mom and I enjoying some Pipa’s on Tamarindo beach

In most towns you can find locals selling coconuts on the beach, but they are not all created equal. In Tamarindo for instance, most of the pipa sellers carry pre-shucked coconuts around in buckets of water. These coconuts are fine, but I find they don’t taste as fresh, and are often warm from being lugged around the beach all day.

To really get a delicious pipa experience, you want to look for a vendor who is selling the whole coconuts, the ones that still have their green outer shell on them. I’ve found the best ones are often sold out of the back of pick up trucks, and are kept in coolers of ice. If you find one of these, you are in business.

Carlo works his magic

Carlo works his magic

So, you have located a pipa truck…now what? Well, the magic words “Una pipa, porfavor” will get you what you need. Get your 500 colones ($1), ready, and watch the magic unfold.

In these photos Carlo, my favourite Pipa seller in Playa Coco, brandished a gigantic machete, and carefully lopped off the top of the coconut. He worked fast, and managed to make a small little hole in the top without losing a drop of the delicious coconut water inside. It is an impressive sight to watch.

delicioso!

delicioso!

Just like that you have some delicious coconut water to enjoy. It tastes so fresh, and crisp compared to what you buy back home. It’s the perfect perk up after a long afternoon in the sun. I always start by eating the little bit of coconut meat on the “lid” of the coconut, and then dive into the water.

So at this point, sit back, relax, and enjoy, but don’t go far! There is more fun to be had!

Lots of people will just throw the coconut out once they’ve finished the water, but if you are looking for a little snack, and some healthy fats, the coconut meat is a great snack.

The machete is wielded once again.

The machete is wielded once again.

Head back to your pipa vendor, and he/she will help you out!

First they cut one of the hard ends off. This will become the spoon. Then they give the centre of the coconut one big schwack with their machete. Using a baton, they continue to hit the blade until it breaks the coconut in half. It is a violent process, and an impressive feat.

Perfect afternoon snack!

Perfect afternoon snack!

Using the little spoon they created at the start, they scrape the meat loose from both sides of your coconut, and pour it all into one of the halves.

And just like that, you have a beautiful little treat for your afternoon!

Pipa’s are one of the many things I have found during my travels that feel like a treat, but still keep me healthy. And at $1 a pop, you just can’t go wrong! Just remember, they will always taste best when consumed while enjoying the view of the beach!

beach view!

beach view!

Do you like coconut water? Have you tried fresh coconut?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Who knew Costa Rican fruit would be this funny.

Have you ever done a wine tasting?

You sit, sip wine, and try and figure out what it tastes like.

Well that is how we approached our tropical fruit tasting earlier this week.

Whitney and I had bought three kinds of fruit from the farmers market, and based on yesterday’s post, you can imagine how excited I was to try them.

We gathered together in the kitchen with a pad of paper, and got ready to write our “tasting notes”

Guava, Guanabana, and Passion Fruit

Guava, Guanabana, and Passion Fruit

We had three contenders, Passion Fruit, Guava, and Guanabana. First up PassionFruit.

The Passion Fruit

The Passion Fruit

Whitney: Looks like frog eggs, and a booger. It’s kind of sweet, and the seeds are crunchy but sour. All in all not a fantastic consistency

Kate: Starts out good, get bad. Tastes like citrus, and papaya with an after taste of grass. Chewing the seeds actually makes it taste a little better.

Uni: Meh, like a sweet citrusy oyster.

Brad: Something stinks

A fine review if I do say so myself, next up, Guava

Guava time!

Guava time!

Whit: Looks like an apple on steroids. Tastes like a pear with pesky annoying hard seeds. Would be good with no seeds, all in all, okay.

Kate: Hard, seedy, like a woody apple. Tastes like something unripe that my Mom would tell me I’d get the runs from if I ate to much. Probably would be good as a jam

Smit: Yup, that’s guava

Labour intensive!

Labour intensive!

Well said, well said. And finally, the moment of truth, my beautiful Guanabana. I took my time with this one, carefully cutting it open as per the youtube tutorial. It was much more challenging then I thought. The skin peeled right off, but the seeds were embedded deep in the pulpy meat. I spent quite a bit of time pushing the seeds out of the meat, and still missed a couple.

As I dissected the mass, everyone gathered around, expressing their clear disgust of the mound of white gunk I was about to force them to eat.

The infamous Guanabana

The infamous Guanabana

Whitney: Looks like terrible tastes like terrible, I just couldn’t keep it down. (note: Whitney spat hers out)

Kate: Looks like sheep intestines, cud, or cooked mushy watery white fish. Tastes like citrus, strawberries, and passion fruit. I love it!

Smit: It’s like sushi

Uni: It’s the chewing tobacco of fruit.

Shaun: Looks like white vomit that is all stuck together. Surprisingly citrusy considering it’s bland appearance.

The tasting in progress.

The tasting in progress.

So there you have it, the epic fruit taste test. A wonderful way to end the year.

Some were more successful then others. I’ll certainly be buying Guanabana again in the future!

And even with everyone’s mixed opinions, once we threw everything in the blender, and added vodka and ice, we gave everything rave reviews!

SOOO good!

SOOO good!

What kind of crazy fruit have you tried? Ever had guanabana?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

The search for Guanabana in Costa Rica

I LOVE all the produce here in Costa Rica, especially the fruit. I often buy random things at the grocery store just to try them out. That’s how we learnt that we love Chayote, and now we use it in pretty much every meal!

But there is one fruit that has been rather illusive…the ever mysterious Guanabana.

During our first week in Tamarindo, I was choosing the fruit for my smoothie at Mandarina, and noticed this container of white stuff. I rocked a little “que es esto?” and she responded with Guanabana. Having no idea what she said, I figured why not, throw it in. Best decision ever! It made my smoothie so delicious!

From wikipedia

From wikipedia

I went home, and Googled this strange fruit, and even watched a YouTube tutorial of how to cut one. Guanabana or Soursop, is this odd large prickly, looking green fruit, with white pulpy innards and large black seeds. Their wiki page described it has having flavours of banana, strawberry and coconut. There are also lots of articles about its potential cancer fighting powers. Needless to say the more I read the more intrigued I was.

P1010598

The Farmers Market

I figured I would pick one up at the store the next day for us to try…but they didn’t have any.  So I hiked to the next store…and the next store, and the fruit stand, and the MegaSuper, and NO one in town sold them. When we got to Santa Teresa, and went to their health food store, I found a small container of some pre sliced pieces. I really wanted to find the whole fruit, but figured that would be fine. We were on our way to dinner, so I thought I would stop on the way back. When I returned, it was gone..and the didn’t have any more during our entire stay (trust me, I checked!).

Everything was so fresh!

Everything was so fresh!

I reached out to my blogger friend Maribel of Stroller Adventures, and she suggested a farmers market. Well, it wasn’t until this week in Playa Coco, that I actually found a one! Early one morning Whitney, and I trekked out to the little Farmers Market to see what they had.

The produce was amazing, we loaded up on fresh pico de gallo makings, pineapples, and all sorts of strange fruits. I glanced around for the hidden gem of guanabana, but alas, none to be found.

So many things I didn't recognize!

So many things I didn’t recognize!

As we went to check out, I was using my terrible Spanish to try and ask the women if the fruit we had chosen were good. Her eyes lit up, she said “uno momento” and she reached behind the counter. My heart jumped as she pulled out a GIGANTIC Guanabana. Seriously, this thing probably weighed 10 pounds. I would have paid anything, but when she said it would be 16 dollars, Whitney talked me out of it (Not even I could eat that much!). After explaining to cashier that it was to big, she darted in the back, and started rummaging through boxes, after a lengthy search she came out with a much more reasonable sized one. I was stoked!! She explained that it wasn’t ripe, so I would have to wait until tomorrow to eat it.

Our farmers market haul, with my Guanabana front and centre!

Our farmers market haul, with my Guanabana front and centre!

We lugged our prizes home, and I waited patiently for the 24 hours to pass so I could finally dig into my prize.

Was it delicious?

You’ll just have to wait and see…tomorrow on Hostels and Hot Rollers, the epic guanabana tasting of 2013.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Healthy Hostel Meals Part 3

Food photo round up time!

Two and a half weeks in, and we are rocking the hostel meals.

I thought I would take you on a photo tour of some of our recent meals. We are working on getting some variety…if you have any suggestions, leave a comment below!

Sauteed Chickpeas and onions with all sorts of local veggies (most of which I don't know the names of!)

Sauteed Chickpeas and onions with all sorts of local veggies (most of which I don’t know the names of!)

Fajita night! Chicken, beans, avocado and veg!

Fajita night! Chicken, beans, avocado and veg!

Lizano chicken, sauteed peppers and rice and beans!

Lizano chicken, sauteed peppers and rice and beans!

One of my fave lunches! Tuna, Avocado, Cabbage, Chickpeas, and lettuce...with lots of Lizano of course!

One of my fave lunches! Tuna, Avocado, Cabbage, Chickpeas, and lettuce…with lots of Lizano of course!

Gotta have colour in our veg!

Gotta have colour in our veg!

This is one of our faves! Shaun aims to slide the egg on just right for a good photo op! Veggies and chickpeas underneath!

This is one of our faves! Shaun aims to slide the egg on just right for a good photo op! Veggies and chickpeas underneath!

Similar the the previous night, but I got impatient and squished my egg in. Added avocado which made it extra delicious!

Similar the the previous night, but I got impatient and squished my egg in. Added avocado which made it extra delicious!

Okay, I’m hungry now. Lucky for me it’s almost lunch time!

What do you think we should make for our next hostel meal?

Pura Vida!

Kate
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Our first Mandarina (of many!)

For those of you who read our Must Sees, you know that Mandarina was an important one!)

I didn’t get one on our first day, because wobbly pops appeared to be a priority. I actually had intentions of waiting until later of the week. I figured it would give me a little adventure to look forward to! Well, that thought process, lasted less then 24 hours. Shaun, and I were poking around on day 2, and I simply couldn’t resist.

The first Mandarina (of many!!)

The first Mandarina (of many!!)

Shaun and I split this one. Pineapple, Passionfruit, and Banana, with water and no sugar..My mouth is watering just typing this.

Waiting patiently for our first sip (some of us are waiting more patiently then others)

Waiting patiently for our first sip (some of us are waiting more patiently then others)

I was obviously in my happy place.

Smoothie Love!

Smoothie Lover!

I figured this would be a once a week treat, as we have a pretty strict budget, but to my delight, a small smoothie is only 1000 colones or 2 bucks! Such a good deal in fact…

Round 2!

Round 2!

We went again the next day!! (Pineapple, Passionfruit, and strawberry in case you were wondering ;))!

What other smoothie combinations should we try! They have so much variety!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Healthy Hostel Meals Part 1

I’ve decided to start a series of posts dedicated to healthy hostel meals, because let me tell you, it’s going to be a work in progress. I look forward to looking back on this post months from now, and laughing at how ridiculous some of my meals have been. It’s going to be an awesome learning process.

As soon as Shaun and I checked in, we decided are best bet was to do a grocery shop. The fact that I was borderline hangry, and he needed a beer may have helped drive us to the store. Luckily, there is a SuperCompro right next store to our hostel, so off we went! Here is what we ended up with.

Our first grocery run!

Our first grocery run!

  • Rice- brown, much to my insistence, and Shaun’s dismay. Not a time saver in the least, but so much better for you. I kept telling Shaun, we’ve got no where to be!
  • Instant Noodles- You can guess who those are for!
  • A pineapple-You can bet this will be the first of many!
  • Cervasa- Of course
  • Laundry Soap
  • Can of black beans
  • Head of cabbage
  • Salad Dressing
  • Eggs
  • Bananas
  • Mixed Veggies (more on those in a later post!)
  • Tortillas
  • Apples

I had a couple strategies for our shopping. First, find things that had protein that would have some staying power, but that won’t go bad right away (eggs, beans). Second- look for ingredients that we could make mass amounts of and keep in the fridge, (rice, beans, boiled eggs). Third, keep in cheap! Getting cereal and milk would be easy, but its expensive, goes quickly and doesn’t have staying power. Fourth and the most challenging is fresh veggies. We have made a pact that every dinner will include veggies (and in my case lunches too!). I can tell already this will be challenging, but it’s so worth it. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’ve got veggies in your system!

As soon as we got home with our grocery goodies this happened:

Let me tell you, with my hangry hovering at a dangerous level, this meal was amazing. Banana, almond butter (brought from home) on a mini tortilla. A quick protein burst to get us through to the evening. A perfect start to our Costa Rican hostel dining experience!

Any tips for eating healthy while living in a hostel?

Pura Vida

Kate