As we all strive to eat better, cleaner and often or not due to our health we have to watch what we eat. However, the eating & food shopping experience is Spain is completely different to England.
The SUPER-markets are jam packed with everything you want, need and MORE. You can get lost for hours. From TVs, to baby clothes, to your fresh melon. It is pretty insane. These supermarkets aren't just in the big cities, you can find a range of different stores within walking distance. Which again, it is so nice to stroll to the shops and not think about hopping into a car. Again, good for your mental & physical health. You step away from work, escape the same four-walls and YES it isn't a 'special outing' or anything exciting but you got in some exercise and fresh air.
The markets which run every Thursday & Saturday in the summer season and Saturday in the winter season is where it is at. Opening at 10am, you need to get in there quick as the crowds quickly build up. As people walk down with their trolleys and begin to purchase FRESH food for the week. From MASSIVE, juicy fruits, LARGE, nutritious veggies, SOFT, fresh breads and FRESH, off the bone meat. You can also buy your roast chicken that has been freshly cooked from the market. IMAGINE that! A roast without the faff of cooking it for hours. Especially if you are entertaining.
You even had the men coming down for fresh flowers to take home and women buying gorgeous flower displays for their dining tables. The hustle and bustle, the sun beaming down as you leisurely stroll through the markets is a pleasant change from the 'supermarket sweep' that normally takes place at home. The quicker we can get everything in the trolley, paid and out the better. It isn't the case here. Mama and I enjoy soaking up the life & immersing ourselves into the Spanish lifestyle.
What goodies can you expect & you should load up on?
1. Papayas: Not just juicy and tasty ( especially with some extra added cinnamon ) but what are the health benefits?
- Improves digestions
-Prevents against heart disease
-Helps treat arthritis
-Boosts the immune system
-Helps treat hypertension
I always load up on Papayas on my trips to Spain, having one almost every morning for breakfast with cinnamon and berry. YUMMY.
2. Melon: Jam-packed with flavour compared to the watery flavour you get over here in England. But what are the health benefits?
- Reduces high blood pressure
-Reduces blood glucose levels for people suffering from diabetes.
- Helps lung, heart & eye health
-Reduces the risk of cancers
-Boosts the immune system
Melon and Parma ham is a fave starter choice for many of you and it is on most menus. Take advantage of this and enjoy the juicy, freshness.
3. Strawberries ( YES I am allergic to strawberries but you can't miss out on these MASSIVE berries on offer on the market. )
-Reduces blood pressure
-Helps burn stored fat
-Boosts the immune system
-Support pre-natal health
4. Peppers: So large, they are like my dream. They are in my salads EVERY-day.
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Cures anaemia (maybe why my red bloods cells are the only element in my body that is normal on my bloods!)
-Promotes a healthy heart
5. Tomatoes: Mama and I LOVE a good beef tomatoes and boy do they have some BIGGIES, BUT I do love grabbing a range of tomatoes we don't always have access to over here due to our climate. So black, green, yellow and orange are all in the trolley and decorate my salads. EAT THE RAINBOW, RIGHT!
-Promotes healthy skin
-Boosts the immune system
-Purifies your blood ( magical!)
6. Broccoli: OH, I love Broccoli but it is often difficult to find a full and big one in our supermarkets. BUT for as little as $1 you can take home a tree and a half of the veg! It really is the tree of life with it's benefits.
- Great source fibre
-Rich in calcium
-Keeps skin young and glowing
-Great source of iron
7. Celery: The celery sticks were out of this world. In the summer, there is no excuse not to add these with your pre-dinner dips, your salads or just as a little snack to nibble on.
- Rids kidney & gallstones
8. Cucumbers: So many people dismiss cucumbers and often decide against adding them into their salads but with the health benefits they deserve place in our salads.
-Rehydrates the body ( great for sun)
-Relieves joint pain
-Controls blood pressure
9. Cauliflower: I struggle to digest cauliflower, and especially raw it is too much on my stomach. I know the health benefits however and I do try to add a little bit into my diet, steamed everyday.
-Helps bladder & kidney disorders
-Rich in fiber
-Promotes healthy cell growth ( key in people with auto-immune diseases)
-Detoxifies your liver and blood ( again KEY for people battling viruses, infections and chronic diseases.)
-Reduces the risk of cancer.
10. Mushrooms: there are a lot of varieties, and please explore them all. They are all packed with amazing minerals and vitamins.
-High in vitamin D
-Contain B vitamins
-Improves immune health
-High in iron
OTHER must's for meat & fish lovers:
1. Parma ham.
2. Fresh beef & chicken from the markets.
Off the menu:
1. Seabass cooked in salt - not only fresh but it is a show in itself as the waiter adds the flames & fillets the fish in front of you.
2. Paella, when in Spain! Often restaurants will say it has to be a minimum of 2 people for a paella order but when out with the family or a group ordering a paella between you is a hearty, typical Spanish dish.
3. Parma ham in melon - you will get ALOT of ham and juicy melon.
4. Meat dishes - your meat dishes will roughly be the same price or slightly cheaper than here in Britain but you will get FAR more meat.
5. Fresh salads: packed with fruit and veg. They are tropical, juicy and nutritious.
6. Cheese and ham boards, often served with a range of fresh breads and olives.
7. Bread baskets. We all love our fresh bread but just to nibble on before you meal you will be served with a full basket, aioli & oil.
8. Omelettes: the Spanish do them amazingly, they are jampacked with a number of fillings and made fresh.
9. Churros and chocolate. A little like New York with their roasted nuts, Brussels with their waffles, churros are your sweet, street food that Spain are known for.
10. Patatas Bravas ( spicy CHOPPED FRIED POTATOES TO US): We seem to like our chips a normal of ways, with gravy, with salt, with ketchup or vinegar but the Spanish are known for their spicy but sweet sauce.
11. Tortilla Española ( a mix of a quiche and a omelette with added potatoes. )
-Shop at the weekly market if you can to get the freshest products at outstanding prices.
-Load up on the fruit and veggies whilst you can get the most vitamins possible compared to home.
-Get to the markets early to get what you want.
-Take your trolley with you!
If you want to immerse yourself into the true Spanish lifestyle opt for an apartment over a hotel.
Have a balance of meals in and meal out.
Benefit from the extra vitamins from your food but also the sun, but walking more.
I know people always laugh at me, for how much fruit and veg I have in my diet but they ARE MY MEDICINE. It is true, food is medicine and I am a prime example of this.
When I am out in Spain, the sun doesn't just help my immune system but the food & the quality of food I am eating helps me immensely too.
My body is too weak for a lot of Western medicine, so I have to rely on herbs and diet to keep my health stable which I know many people won't understand.
I don't have the luxury to 'eat what I want' but I do have the luxury to eat as MUCH as I can on what I can eat and although my heart sinks when I see everyone's pizzas and sticky toffee puddings all around me. I am grateful that I have had to learn about how I can aid my body and it has made me more knowledgeable on the food I eat, not just mindlessly eating.
It is true -- gratitude is the best dose of medicine we need to bounce back and rebuild. We can't all have everything we want but we are so blessed with what we can/do have.
I hope you have found this post informative & helpful. I hope you all go out and begin adding more plant-based foods to our diets and aiding our bodies with natural aids.
Let me know what your fruit and veg of choice are!? Did you know their benefits?