I’m in the Capital city of Ecuador, Quito, and loving it! (read next blog to find out why and how I got here)
Being in my own space, without other people to cook for (by choice of course), to talk to or to exchange energy with, I have a lot of time to really be with myself in a different way than the way I was with myself in the jungle. The locals are city people not Native villagers, and no one works for me and no one has questions or comments, it’s just me, myself and I, literally and figuratively. I’m enjoying it to the fullest!
There’s a store next door to me, Megamaxi, much like a Walmart but bigger than any department, grocery store I’ve ever been in. They have almost everything imaginable inside and I must share with you how easy it is to live on a budget, surrounded by everything a city requires to be a city and still make life simple, easy and enjoyable for a budget traveler. (I wouldn’t say I’m a traditional backpacker anymore).
If it hasn’t been clear to you yet, I’m a big foodie! I even tried being a breatharian (one who lives off of only sun and oxygen), but eventually realized how silly it was for someone with a gift and passion to share with people who crave to learn and know of such wisdom in the kingdom of food, to keep hidden. So as I grow and mature in my personal life, as a young woman, traveling on her own safely and abundantly for more than 5years, connecting with beings of all walks of life, so does my creativity with food. As if there was a limit to the abundance in the food kingdom and world of creativity. As if! No way! It only gets better as I mature. Ha! imagine that!
While traveling, I carry a few nonperishable Superfoods and “essential” ingredients with me. In the first picture is the abundance and proof that traveling eating and consuming “mostly raw” foods, is quite easy and simple. One just needs to know their resources, what they like, know their budget and know how to create something from nothing as well as something from so little or so much. When abundance is provided it can get a little overwhelming, with so many options I can get so excited and sometimes I can overbuy or underbuy. I try to enter a store, not on an empty stomach, and with a list of what I want to buy before I enter, but leave room for a little mystery of course. One never knows what lies behind the foreign territory, and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have been pleasantly surprised to find some pretty extraordinary products. Hey that’s what happens when I don’t have expectations, I can’t be disappointed because I have no pre notions.
So today’s purchases were made right after the gym. I woke up at 6:30am, my last meal was at 6:30pm the night before and it was 1:30pm. I experimented. I put everything I desired in the moment into my cart and when I got to the cash register I took out 1/4 of what I knew was only temptation and the consequence of arriving to a food haven with an empty stomach. I also only had my 30L back pack and I had purchased 3 coconuts and a 7L bottle of water (I returned at 7pm before they closed to get 5 more). Take a look at the first picture, at the top of the page here. Most of what you see, I purchased today. The rest I brought with me or purchased on the way or made myself with what I found in nature (like the fermented noni). I would like very much to share with you what’s in this picture, and perhaps inspire you to go out and get these too (recipes follow), or pass on the info to friends, or prepare you for your future endeavours.
Products I brought with me from Canada:
Starting on the Right: All things from the sea: Kelp whole and flakes, Dulse whole and flakes, Brain On/E3 Live (a gift from my friend who distributes it), raw chlorella tablets (from my favourite superfood company Giddy Yoyo), and on the far left goji berries (also from Giddy Yoyo, I bought a 6lb bag before I left, and shared some, but brought 2lbs with me) I finished my chia seeds (although Ecuador sells them too) and my Austrian pumpkin seeds, chaga mushroom and essential oils I use for skin and food are not in the picture.
From the Right, all purchased in Ecuador: papaya, mango, dill, soaked almonds, quinoa, lentils, parsley, cilantro (aka coriander), fresh fermented noni (I picked myself from a tree in the jungle area), powdered alfalfa, tahini, honey, sweet purple potato, germinating lentils (day 2, tails just started to grow), really young coconuts, package of dried local mushrooms, Swiss chard, broccoli, spinach, germinated broccoli seeds (in the container), avocados (2 kinds as you can see), fresh aloe vera (shipped from Vilcabamba, where I spent my first month Nov-Dec), red onion, celery, ginger, garlic, limes, radish. Oh and up at the top left is a bundle of Guayusa Leafs (a very popular Ecuadorian healing tea that grows abundantly in the jungles)
And of course, some tools I always carry with me: a nut milk bag (located in the first picture, the white bag), grater, peeler and often I find a blender to make my smoothies and other tasty liquid creamy treats.
So as you can see there’s plenty of everything. The imported produce I see in Ecuador mostly consists of USA products like apples (although Ecuadorian ones are so much tastier, organic and local, but they only have 2 kinds for sale), grapes and kiwis. Everything else (most things are not on this list) are readily available and most is organic (most is unsprayed because farmers cannot afford the chemicals, but it depends what it is of course), all my greens are organic, and pretty much the same price as nonorganic.
Just to give you an idea of how much things cost: greens are under 40-90cents per bundle, most things are by kilogram anyway which is amazing, fruits are 50cents-$1.50 per kilogram, coconuts are $1-$1.25/each (cheaper than their source, the beach!), honey $4, almonds 200g for $4, powdered alfalfa $10, tahini $5, lentils $1/kg, quinoa organic same as nonorganic surprisingly $2.60, garlic and ginger $1/kg, fresh aloe (most astonishing 60cents), avocados $1.50/kg, 7L bottle of water $1.50, bundle of Guayusa $1. Obviously the “unessentials” like tahini and alfalfa powder are just extras my budget allows. There’s nowhere to get a massage around here, I saved a lot on accommodation and I don’t spend money on anything but anyway so bottoms up! I am splurging on my tastebuds. I am what I eat and I eat mostly locally, seasonally, organic, and fresh!
Here is my lunch/dinner (which you can see in the picture)
Salad: 1 or 2 portions (depending on your appetite)
-2 cups greens chopped finely (I used Swiss chard, spinach, cilantro, parsley)
-3 radishes thinly sliced
-handful of sprouts (I used broccoli sprouts, others: sunflower, snow pea shoots, sprouted beans, legumes, daikon, alfalfa, etc.)
-1 avocado smashed
-1 small lime freshly squeezed
-1-3 garlic cloves minced (depending on how garlicky you like it)
-1/2 inch ginger minced or more if you like it
-dulse flakes or whole crumbled
Optional: grated carrot, sliced celery, cucumber, olives, and anything else you like in your salad, but don’t use fruit if you put in carrots or beets (veggie starches don’t combine well with fruits) BUt greens go with anything alone
-Add any other herbs you like: basil, mint, oregano, arugula, etc.
-Combine first 3 ingredients
-In a separate bowl mash the avocado, garlic, ginger and lime juice together until it looks like chunky or smooth guacamole
-Add to the salad and mix well until creamy and evenly combined. Serve with extra sprouts, pumpkin seeds, herbs, radish, etc. on top before serving.
Sautéed Veggies with Mushrooms:
-1/4 cup dried mushrooms or 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms (use medicinal healing property containing mushrooms, not white button whenever possible, minimum portobello, but shiitake, maitake, chanterelle, ear, etc. are fabulous and readily available, depending on season and location
-1/2 cup water
-1/2 red onion thinly sliced
-1 handful Swiss chard leaves and/or spinach
-1 handful of veggies (I used broccoli florets chopped, 1/4 carrot thinly sliced: other options: celery, red or yellow pepper, pre cooked eggplant, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cabbage, other greens, etc.)
– 1-3 garlic cloves minded (depending on garlicky you like it)
-1/2 inch ginger minced
-1 sheet kelp (with natural white powder salt on is best), or any other seaweeds you like (even crumbled nori sheets works great, but not as salty)
-1/2 handful of each finely chopped parsley and cilantro
Optional: sesame seed oil (drizzled on when ready to serve), chili/cayenne/spicy as you like, toasted sesame seeds for taste and decoration and whatever else you like usually in a sauté/stirfy
-Soak dried mushrooms in bowl of water (double the amount of the mushrooms) for 10-30min depending on the mushroom)
-In a cast iron, stainless steel, or any pan that is not teflon (nonstick) and definitely not aluminum (the quality and material of the cookware makes a difference in taste and quality of the food and your overall wellbeing too), sauté the onions with the 1/2 cup of water on a medium heat until soft, stir occasionally, and if it gets dry before they get soft, add 1/4 cup water at a time.
-Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 10min
-Add the veggies of your choice, the kelp, cook for 2min, close the pan with an airtight lid and let it cook in its heat for 3-4min
-Open the lid, add the garlic, ginger, parsley and cilantro, mix and close the lid for 1min. Open and serve immediately with quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, black rice, red rice, millet or wild rice.
Note: If it’s not creamy enough add a little avocado fresh or oil, drizzle a little toasted sesame seed oil. If it’s not salty enough add an organic soy sauce or bragg’s aminos, coconut nectar soy sauce substitute (on the market in USA, Canada, Australia and Europe), or just add celtic sea salt or the best quality salt you can find, but do not use table iodized salt. Celtic is the best, then Himalayan (if it’s from a trusted source without lead for sure, and then sea salt (thanks to fukishima’s radiation the sea salt out on the markets now should be cautioned too)
You can have the quinoa separate or mixed with the veggies. Bon Provecho!
Add the quinoa to your salad as well, it’s incredibly tasty, extra protein and very filling!