Healthier Eats in 7 European Cities
A subject I always research before visiting a new city is the food; what is local, and are there restaurants I would consider healthy. It was sometimes pretty difficult, and it isn't common to modify your order at a restaurant in Europe like we do here in America. Here are healthy eating options I personally discovered while traveling through Europe.
Copenhagen was my first solo destination so I was a little nervous getting out and exploring the first night I arrived in the city. I did find something awesome though, there are 7-11 stores everywhere and they are not like ours in America. They are stocked full of healthy and fresh food options like I have never seen before. Salads, juices, sandwiches, fruit, small meals on the go - and not the kind you'll find rolling round and round under a heat lamp.
I tried a curry quinoa and bison - I didn't know at the time that it was bison - snack cup or sorts that was actually pretty tasty. The label was of course in Danish, so I mistook bison for falafel because of how it looked, until I took a bite of it! Either way, it was a solid meal for my first night there after a long day of travel with a few less than healthy snacks on the plane. Another very popular place to go for some healthier choices is Joe and the Juice. Although it's a chain, it is supposed to be very good!
Over spring break I went to Ireland with a fellow teacher, and made a stop in Cork because of its connection with my Casey family lineage. Ireland is a tough one for finding a lot of healthy food, but in cork we visited the English Market and had some food at the Farmgate Cafe, which was recommended as a must do when visiting Cork. Not everything on the menu would be considered healthy but they have some beautiful freshly made side salads, like the fennel salad I had along side my chicken salad sandwich. The nice thing about the market is that the downstairs has many take away and grocery style options for you to put together something healthier if you so choose. As a bonus, their Spar Convenience stores carry fresh fruit and a variety of protein bars which is not very common across Europe. I saw them and immediately though "score!" and stocked up for the rest of that trip.
I traveled to Budapest by myself one weekend, looking to explore on my own time and go to the thermal baths. The first day I arrived in the city, before I went on any walking tours or meeting any soon-to-be buddies for the weekend, I went off on my own looking for something green. I always get this craving for vegetables and leafy greens when I have been traveling or haven't been able to eat them in a while. So, I did some research on my own and found myself at Legelő Salátabár in the Jewish Quarter. I actually loved this place quite a lot. You can choose from salads right off the menu or put yours together. There are protein options, different cheese, seeds and nuts, vegetables, and a variety of other toppings and lettuce types. I was able to create a giant salad with chicken, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, a basic vinaigrette - all on top of spinach! Yum!
Prague, Czech Republic
My friend Kelley and I went to Prague in may to see Mumford and Sons, and both fell in love with it. From the whimsical architecture, to the paddle boats on the river, and the people we happened to meet on a beer tasting tour; we were hooked. This was a tougher place to find healthy eats, but we did find a salad-bar type restaurant that did the job for at least one meal: Green Factory. Similar to the salad bar in Budapest, but no spinach. In a pinch, it was a great option.
In Dubrovnik, I tried a restaurant with a little bit of a silly name but amazing food. Lady Pi Pi (pee-pee). This restaurant was highly recommended and we were told to be sure to get there at opening time because it would be busy and we would be waiting. It was worth it though, for fresh grilled whole fish and a side of veggies. No where better to eat fresh fish than a beautiful medieval town on the Adriatic sea.
Positano hangs along the seaside as well, where you'll find more seafood. A small gem I found to be very helpful while traveling was getting deli meat for the road as well as some fresh fruit or vegetables from a stand along the road. No where else in Europe, that I experienced, had as good of quality of pre-packaged deli meat than in Italy. If you're in need of something quick, I highly recommend checking the local grocery shop for a package of turkey breast and you can grab some fruit while you're there as well.
In Madrid, being my home base, I was able to find quite a few healthy spots to eat. If you're going out with friends Mercado de San il Defonso will have an option for just about everyone. If you're looking for something lower calorie or lower carb, head on over to the stand on the second floor where they grill and serve skewers of all different proteins; including salmon and calamari which were my personal favorites. A couple juice and smoothie places to mention would be Juicy Avenue and Fit Food, where you'll find a variety of smoothies, detox juices, and smoothie bowls among other snacks.
Doing a little searching on your own in a new city also gives you the opportunity to burn a few extra calories walking as well as discovering hidden parts of the cities that aren't on the tourist map. Get on out there and find some new spots for yourself, or go in search of the many restaurants mentioned above!