Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trying to stay healthy while vacationing in Belize, or while living here? Low carb dieting and yoga discoveries in Placencia!

There are a lot of arguments over the "best" and healthiest way to lose weight. Personally, I find that yoga 3-4x a week, and eating a relatively low-carb diet keeps my weight low enough to feel ok in a bathing suit, but we all have our own body chemistry and what works for us!

For those that move here, or are just here on vacation, and are low-carb fans, I have some ideas about how I've maintained a low carb diet while here (And feel free to say to h*ll with dieting, I'm on vacation....however, you may not feel like you are dieting with these ideas!!)

Some ideas for low-carb menu items around the village! 
***also note, I have researched the lowest carb alcohol drinks one can get here - I drink these two exclusively - Pinot Grigio or other white wine, or a Vodka (Hyper is the local brand but watch the hangover) with club soda and a lime. Most of the mixed drinks are just filled with sugar here. For beer, I'd probably stick to Lighthouse Lager. No info on the carb count of the beer here...and only Bowen and Bowen beers are available in the country. 

Dolce Vita - They have the best wine list in town, and many of their menu items are paired with either a salad or pasta, so it was no big deal to order low carb here. The portions are HUGE and this is highly recommended for dinner!
Rick's Cafe- YUM....lots of healthy, organic, vegan options. My favorite is the Vegan salad, to which I non-vegan-ly add chicken, but it is so filling and delicious. Totally recommended and there are plenty of carb-y options for your spouse.
Rick's, off the sidewalk, about halfway between pier and northern edge of village
Wende's Creole Cafe or Cozy Corner - Sit on the porch/deck, these are seriously fun local places...I always order one of the fish entrees which are straight off the boats. I order double veggies and it is a huge portion. 
Rumfish, Mojo, or Secret Garden - these are three of most popular places to eat in the village, they all have great atmospheres, unique & vacation-ey - and very easy to order the fresh fish of the day with just veggies on the side and maybe add a salad. You will NOT feel you are missing out. However, at Rumfish and Mojo you WILL feel you are missing out on the awesome drinks they offer, but their wine is good and you'll live.

Something more casual - Barefoot Bar or Tipsy Tuna - easy to order dry rub wings, a burger with no bun, or a salad at either place. You'll be happy! 
**The sleepers!! EnE Chinese restaurant....no facebook page, you will see it as you enter the village on Main Street from CBC. You have to try their egg drop soup and egg fu yung, sooo good. You can order it to go. Another place that just reopened - Dragonfly on Main Street - I had their egg drop soup and it was filled with chicken and veggies....it was the best soup I have had in a long time, a huge bowl, for $4US!!! This has a fun patio to sit at and watch the village go by.
Also - at the street food stands, Mim's, etc - order stewed chicken, double portion, maybe with cole slaw- yes a bit of sugar in the cole slaw but things could be worse. Hot Chicks Deli also has rotisserie chicken.
Brewed Awakenings - Espresso madness drink - this is better than the best thing at Starbucks and it has seaweed, that you will never know is in there. Although it tastes a bit sweet, it is the cacao you taste and there is no added sugar. SUCH a treat.  
Me and Sticks grabbing a seaweed shake.
Breakfast - I usually order a veggie omelette with a side of sausage or bacon, most places have it - I just ordered this at The Shak and it was AMAZING.
Finally, if you are curious what low-carb options are available at the grocery stores, vs. what you should plan on improvising or bringing from home....

Things I often buy at the grocery store, that are almost always available....(grocery stores here are kind of....inconsistent, in what is available :) )
---85% local dark chocolate from Goss -often kept in the coolers (this has a little bit of sugar but not much at all, and I usually get 4 servings out of one bar, so this is negligible sugar - it is RICH)
---Plenty of nuts (but the imported ones are expensive!), local cashews, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, lunch meat, eggs, breakfast meats, local pumpkin seeds, & sunflower seeds are available.
---Splenda is available, but no Stevia. There is plenty of diet coke, called "coke light" here (Ming's has the best selection of diet colas.) Almond milk with no sugar added is almost always available, along with cream, cool whip (only has 2 carbs per serving!), plain yogurt - the local kind called Mr. Natural is the BEST. Top Value often has nitrate-free hot dogs, and all places carry tons of chicken and meat. Salad stuff and veggies can be found at the farmer's markets all through town.  
--When I come down I will sometimes bring down low carb wraps, liquid Stevia, maple extract, and protein bars/powder. This really depends on how you cook and what you really think you'll miss.
 Make sure yours has a sticker that says "85%" (quora.com)
One of many markets you'll see throughout the village
Which brings me to my last point. I have figured out a pretty solid list for cooking down here based on what I know will be available. Anyone who has done a low-carb diet knows that preparation is the key to sticking with this diet, as when you are hungry, it is too easy to grab whatever is easy, and that bit of preparation can stop you from blowing it. 

Some easy recipes if you live here, are staying a while, or are just super dedicated to low carb :): 
---Here is my Pinterest Board called "Belize Low Carb Recipes" - feel free to follow as I will always be updating this. This has recipes that I can assure you, you will usually be able to find all of the ingredients here. 
Here are some of my favorites:
Low carb tortillas
Egg drop soup (no spinach, add fresh ginger!)
Taco salad - so simple. Just lettuce, with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, then brown up some ground chicken or beef and add a taco seasoning packet (or your own spices.) Top it with sour cream, cheese, and avocado. I make this like once a week. Sometimes I'll also sautee onion and green pepper with the meat.
Hard boiled eggs - self explanatory and easy :)
Chicken or beef patties with a fried egg on top, also self explanatory.
Here are my two favorite low carb recipe sites:

***Also, for those who do yoga, you will be a happy camper here :). You have two great yoga instructors in the village. 
---Stephanie from Eucalipto - her classes are right in the village, next to Brewed Awakenings. You can walk there from CBC, and her little studio is a tropical dream come true with a bamboo ceiling and floor, and curtains for walls so you can see tropical foliage all around you during class. Her classes are M-W 6:30am for Vinyasa (ok for beginners, you can sit out/improvise more advanced poses - moderate and advanced can definitely get a sweat on), F at 7am relaxed Vinyasa for all levels, and T-Th 8am for all levels Hatha. 
Check out that floor!! (yogatrail.com)
---Agnes from BB Yoga Flow - you can take a short bike ride up the main road, past Chabil Mar and Turtle Inn, and you'll see her little studio on the right hand side of the road. Agnes is awesome, you'll love her classes -- 6am M-W (Moderate) Vinyasa, also fine for beginners, M-W also at 9am, Basic and Gentle Flow - nice for those on vacation!!, also F she has 6am Gentle and 9am Basic. T-Th there is 9am classes as well - Vinyasa on T and Ashtanga on Th.  
Love her place...BB Yoga...(yogatrail.com)
---Note - for those you want a regular gym, two options -  Evolution Beach in the village, and up in Maya Beach, the Maya Beach Heath & Wellness Center.  Note also that a great way to stay in shape here is to just walk the beach - the beach here is a workout to walk on, and the beach is ALL public, so you can walk your butt up 14 miles if you care to. You can also take your bike 14 miles up the peninsula, but don't forget that you have to ride it back too :). For an easier but fun walk, just do the loop of the sidewalk to the pier and back on the street. It is about a half hour walk and you will always have an experience.  

***If you like doing DIY yoga, a couple thoughts. Stay somewhere where there is a semi-private and/or large enough veranda for you to spread your mat - bring your own, or find a quiet part of the beach and spread a towel. (The yoga studios provide mats here.) You can always YouTube yoga, my favorite is Adrienne, she is too cute. 
Her positive attitude makes you want to exercise. (youtube.com)
***Also, if you are coming down with a significant other who is less than interested in healthy eating/moderate portions, and yoga --- check out THIS link for my husband Dave's recommendations for where to get the largest, man-liest, tastiest portions of food in the village!!

And finally....
Stay away from Tutti Frutti if you are a determined low-carber. If you go, you will then know what you are missing, so just don't do it!! (No sugar free gelato there at this time:) )
Who could resist??? (chabilmarvillas.com)

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