Global Food Traveler - travel

  • Bali and the erupting volcano

    Are you a fan of traveling and looking for an escape over the holidays? Are you trying to get to that one destination that you have always wanted to visit?

    Are you like me considering a trip from Bali? If you haven't heard there is currently an active volcano erupting in Bali, Indonesia and you may want to reconsider your trip or pay very close attention to the news. You may want to reconsider if the volcano keeps erupting like it is now.

    Unfortunately, seeing as I have now tried twice to book a trip to Bali in the last two years, and now the Mount Agung volcano in Bali has started activity again pluming smoke into the air. As a result the closing of the airport in the last 24 hours, stranding 60,000 travelers makes me think, something is stopping me from eating, praying and loving all Bali has to offer.

    I tried to head to Bali two years ago, flight booked along with accomodations adn then a typhoon hit Taiwan, the stop over and it caused me to cancel my ticket as a nine day trip was about to turn into a six day trip. Flying for 24 hours to spend only 6 days in a destination is absolutely insane and too much travel, so as a result, the trip was cancelled.

    Now I have been doing research for a few weeks and planned to spend time on the romantic and relaxing island and the volcano decides to become more active causing flight cancellations, closed airports and overall panic. As a result, not sure if planning a trip to Bali over the holidays in December is quite the most intelligent idea.

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    So, as this global foodie and avid traveler thinks, where to next I will ponder the idea of what if thexplosion of an active volcano spewing red and black lava and toxic air is a place I want to be. I would say not right now, no thanks and where should I travel to next. Any ideas are more than welcomed.

  • Healthy fats, oils and the snacks you should be eating

    Do you hear the word fat and cringe at the idea of it? Do you think that low fat is something that is healthy for you? If you are thinking any of the above then it is very wise that you read this article. 

    Many of you all know that fat is a word that many are not fans of. Nobody wants to be called fat or eat fats, or do they? Fat is one of those things that is overated yet also underrated and many are confused about. 

    Do you remember the days of all snacks in the snack aisle being fat free, or low fat. The low fat and fat free phenomenon are a thing of the past and America and the rest of the generations need to get with the times.

    Believe it or not fat is something that is good for you. The only issue with fats is some people don't break down fats as well as others, so consuming the right fats is key to healthy nutrition.

    There are various types of fats and understanding each one is essential to understanding the health behind fats for your nutritional intake.

    Polysaturated fats are fats that the body does not make on its own. Therefore, you must get polyunsaturated fats from foods and these are essential fats that the body needs. Eating these fats reduces the harmful LDL cholesterol and improves the overall cholesterol profile. Fats not only add to our bodies nutrients, but they do things like keep our skin soft, add fat soluble vitamins to the body and are a great source of energizing fuel.

    One key piece is that there are bad fats and people need to know the different between good versus bad fats. There certainly are fats that can clog the arteries, known as trans-fats.

    Trans-fats are the fats that need to be extremely limited but the fats that we should be consuming are the healthy, saturated dietary fats.

    Saturated fats are the fats that are found in butter, cheese, whole raw organic milk and fatty meats. A great company that I highly recommend to get grass fed and finished beef and chicken and so many other varietals of meats is Buy Ranch Direct. They are local to the Southern California area and can be found at local farmers markets, along with their offering to ship online. I have been buying their meats locally for over a year and have never been disappointed. I also can appreciate supporting a local family business that supports other co-ops of farmers within the area. 

    Another key fact about fats is staying clear of various oils that seem to be found in so many American snacks these days, along with other countries are following suit, as the cheaper oils are making it easier to add to foods. As a result these oils, like soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola are manipulated and heat treated and can provide long term detrimental health issues. How so you ask? These hydrogenated, trans fats, typically have been artificially manipulated and can interfere with insulin receptors in the human body. As a result the manipulation of the chemical compounds of these oils, can be linked to heart disease, cancer and diabetes, so try to stay clear of any foods containing these seed oils. 

    Another important fact is you should never buy any oils that are in plastic containers. If you think you are doing your body justice by buying the most economical product at your local Costco, you have got it all wrong. Spend the extra money and invest in the dark, opaque, glass bottle from your local health food store. If you are concerned with price and on a budget, another option is your local Trader Joes market which has a variety of great options of healthy oils that are sold in dark glass bottles.

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    Photo pictured: Fat bombs with coconut oil, cinnamon and cashew butter

    Some recommendations of healthy foods for foods that you can consume on a daily basis include, organic grass fed butters, avocados, organic and non genetically modified (non-gmo) coconut oils for great fatty acid content, raw nuts butter, raw cacao butters, flaxseeds and flaxseed oils and lastly organic eggs from your local farmer or farmers market if available.

  • How to book and find the best travel

    Travel has been a part of my being ever since I went to study abroad during college in London in September 2001. I flew abroad for my very first time to Europe and to study abroad. I flew to London five days after September 11, 2001 and I haven't been the same ever since. 

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    Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Sirote at Cannon Beach, Oregon

    Do you get anxious trying to organize your travel plans? What I am going to do is show you the easiest way to book travel and get the best rates possible. You really don't need a travel agent to find the greatest airfare and rates possible. Follow my posts for more information, but in the meantime here are some photos from some trips well travels this year. Looking forward to my next trip back to a place of relaxation.

    Cahal Pech, Belize

    Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Sirote

    Cahal Pech, Belize

  • Traveling to Cuba and the untold secrets

    Have you been reading articles about Cuba and wondering where you will stay or how to get there? Well, fact of the matter is it is not as difficult as it appears to be when reading about Cuba. 

    Cuba can be a complicated land especially for Americans, more than any other nation. What I highly recommend is to do your research and read up about the information you need to know for necessary travel to Cuba.

    One vital component to traveling to Cuba is that Americans cannot use any sort of plastic, otherwise known as credit or debit cards.

    Cuba will only accept cash from Americans. They must bring all cash with them, including the fact, it is best to exchange your money into a currency other than US dollars. Why you may ask? I exchanged my USD in for Canadian and then upon arrival to Cuba you can exchange your Canadian for CUC (the local Cuban currency) right at the airport. You get better rates in the central city at the Cadeca's so if the line isn't too long best to exchange only enough money to get into town, unless stretching your money isn't that important to you.

    Well, for starters American dollars, are welcome in Cuba, but because of the various rules andtrade embargos, Cuba charges an additional fee for exchanging US Dollars. Therefore, if you are wondering what currency is the best  to take with you, it would ideally be Canadian dollars or Euros. Both currencies are happily accepted at the 'cadecas' and the banks there, along with our fellow neighbors to the North. Banks are open most days and cadecas are smaller exchange places. At times you may get a better rate at a cadeca, but it is all relative to what the exchange rate to 'buy' and 'sell' currency that particular day.

    Next thing that is very important to know is where you are going to stay? There are certainly hotel options, but unlike in the USA hotels are far less reasonable in price. I asked a few hotel staff what the prices were for a night at the hotel, and most were $200.00 or upwards of $450 a night.

    This is not your typical price for a hotel room and you certainly will not be getting a room at the Ritz for that price. Cuba has some nice hotels, but again they charge far more money than what you would pay for a hotel anywhere else in the world, at that price. 

    I am not at all discounting Cuba, but being transparent on what to expect when you go there. The route I went when going to Cuba was what is called, a 'casa particular.' What this means, is that it is a local Cuban national's home, that they rent out, or an apartment for rent. I was lucky enough to rent out the owners apartment, for equivalent to $35 USD a night. I had access to the entire apartment and it was exactly what I needed, and even included a large fridge, stove, and a microwave.

    If you are like me, I highly suggest bringing snacks along as the stores there are few and far between throughout the city. There certainly are plenty of places to have breakfast, lunch or dinner, but if you have food allergies or are picky, then you will certainly want to bring a snack or two. Besides when I travel I love having snacks regardless, so why not bring some foods to have just in case you are off the beaten path exploring around the amazing old town of Havana.

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    Havana truly has a zest for life that no other city has throughout my many years of traveling (17 to be exact). The people of Cuba, the business owners, the music and the children are always galavanting around town and happy go lucky people. Despite the fact the locals make very low wages for very hard work, they are always happy. I think we as Americans take so much for granted and have a lot to learn from the Cuban people. 

    I myself was extremely forunate to be paired up with a beautiful, kind and lovely local who showed me the educational side of Cuba, from her upbringing in Cuba. She is also happy and carefree as I described the locals above, but she also knew everyone in the city. People would stop us to say hello to my new friend and it was so heart warming to know she knew so many people. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy every bit of Cuba that I could have imagined.

    I didn't know what to expect, due to the fact, it seemed a bit more of a hassle to have to turn my money in before leaving, not really having access to my cell phone or the internet for days, which actually was a nice break to not be summoned via text or email every few minutes. That I could get used to, as we rely so much on what others may not be so fortunate to have, like the constant internet connection.

    Do not expect to go to Cuba and spend much time on your cell phone, as the interenet is a rare commodity in Cuba, unless you are staying at a local hotel, and or find the locals gathering by the sea wall, the Malecón, late at night to connect with the outside world.

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    The food was good, but not the best I have ever had and the seafood was truly inexpensive for the American on a budget, (see enclosed photo of lobster tail and rice) but the key to that is knowing where to go. Again, it was a blessing to have a local know where to dine at, as normally these are not places that the locals dine. What people fail to realize is that the food in town is mostly to serve tourists, as the wages that the local Cubans make is not truly sufficient to dine out at the Restaurants that us as tourists dine at. 

    Despite what you read online and in travel books, there is so much to do in Cuba when it comes to art, music and all the sights that you are able to explore. One of my favorite evenings was at the FAC, also known in spanish as, "La Fabrica del Arte." FAC is an evening of art, fashion and local musicians and djs. Just outside Havana there are some incredible sights to see, and amazing beaches too.

    On a  day trip (which should have been more of a two day trip),  we took was a spontaneous day trip to Verdadero beach, which has recently been recognized by National Geographic is one of the world's must see top 20 beaches. This truly was a gem to see and frolicking in the water, was worth the three hour bus ride to this beautiful, clear water beach (see photo). This is a must see if going to Cuba, but ensure you do your research outside of Havana and how to get there. Getting there was easy and you can even make it a quicker trip by having a private taxi take you there. Also, a key piece to konw is it is best to discuss costs before getting in the taxi.

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