Eating Well Abroad: 2 Simple Meals and a Snack to Keep You on Track
Traveling nearly always throws a wrench in training plans. It’s not really so much the eating that athletes struggle with so much as eating well. Having been abroad myself now for three months, I can attest to the difficulty of this. However, because I’ve been abroad for so long now, I’ve learned a couple things. Firstly, the first couple days or weeks (depending on the length of your stay) will be a total wash. You’re in a new place, there’s new restaurants and drinks to try, and unless you have a major competition coming up in the near future, there’s no reason not to loosen the reins a little bit in this initial travel-honeymoon phase and just eat and drink what you want. Secondly, you will quickly start to feel out-of-sorts after this phase, and that’s when it’s time to pick the reins back up and collect yourself. One of the easiest and best ways to do this is by cooking for yourself, so something key to bear in mind while booking accommodation for your travels is to find a hostel or Airbnb that has a functioning kitchen at the very least. Cooking for yourself also has other benefits while abroad. It can help you feel more grounded even though you’re in a temporary place. It also saves money, and the trip(s) to the local grocery store or market are a great way to authentically experience the local culture. But, what to cook? Here are two simple meals and a quick snack that all use similar, common ingredients and yield a delicious, healthy, homey-feeling (and a full belly!).
“It’s Springtime!” Pasta Dish
Pasta is everywhere, and it can be mixed with tons of different things. “It’s Springtime!” Pasta is so-named because it’s extra-versatile in that it can be served warm or cold and enjoyed equally both ways.
- 1/4 bag of plain pasta (I used rotini noodles)
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 tomato
- 1/2 can of tuna*
First, get water going for the pasta and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Once the pasta is cooking, chop up the tomato. I like to travel with at least one plastic container to store food for exactly times like this, but if you don’t have one and are staying in the same place for a few days, just wrap the produce in a bag and leave in the fridge with your name on it. After the pasta is strained , you can choose if you want to keep the dish hot or eat it cold by rinsing it with water. Once you’ve decided, pour the pasta into your bowl and mix in the tomatoes. Spoon out half an avocado and mix in as well. If you’re able to obtain a can of tuna, mix in half a can for some protein. Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!
Tastes-Like-Home Apple Snack
If there’s anything more comforting and delicious than the inside of an apple pie, I haven’t tasted it. This warm apple-snack takes the shortcut down Memory Lane and will have your travel-weary shoulders relaxed in no time.
- 4 small or medium-sized apples
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- cinnamon (if the local market sells any in small packs)
The great thing about this dish is it basically cooks itself. Peel the apples and slice into very thin pieces. Heat a metal frying pan for a couple minutes and then melt in the butter, moving it around the pan so that it doesn’t burn. Tip in the finely-sliced apples and stir to coat them all in the butter. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally. Tip out onto a plate to cool, and season with cinnamon. Make sure to pour out all the natural sugars from the apples that seeped into the pan, too. Enjoy with your travel buddy, or by yourself. This is a great early-morning snack or after-dinner munch.
Open-Faced Tomato and Avocado Sandwich
This one is about as straightforward as it gets, but you can always tweak the process to get a slightly different result. Pictured above is a fresh ciabatta roll that I bought from a little side street in Peru, so before you say “But I don’t have ciabatta!”, go look. Not necessarily ciabatta, but any fresh, local bread. Buying a loaf or several rolls will also keep you on track with the routine you’re trying to establish and help you be accountable for eating a homemade meal.
- 1 bread roll
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 slices of tomato
- 1 fried egg
- fresh fruit (if possible)
Personally, I enjoy a warm sandwich, so I warmed the bread in a pan on the stove for a couple minutes before removing it and slathering it with avocado. I made a couple tomato slices and lay them neatly over the avocado, before topping it all off with a freshly fried egg. The warmness of the bread help draw all the flavors out, so if you want you can season with any available salt and/or pepper, but it’s quite enjoyable in its most basic form.
At the end of the day, eating while traveling is just another form of training. You need to commit to the lifestyle that’s best for you and do your best to hold yourself accountable. Traveling should be enjoyable, and creating meals for yourself is a good way to maintain the balance between special occasions and daily life.