Love Plantains Love Life

When I told my mum that I had developed a new addiction whilst travelling around South America, she prepared herself for the worst. PLANTAINS MUM! I cannot get enough of my yellow friends. Plantain crisps, fried plantain halves (for breakfast, lunch & dinner), plantain flour pancakes.. they´re everywhere! I am certainly not complaining.

Despite their association with the Caribbean and Latin America, plantains originated in Asia. They became popular in Latin America centuries ago when they were harvested and consumed by slaves. Nowadays plantains feature in almost every plato principal on the menu del día in Colombia and are often served for breakfast with rice and eggs across Latin America.

Delicious and nutritious, plantains are a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, iron and have more vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium than their closely related friends, bananas. Plantains are a fibrous alternative to other carbohydrates such as potato or white rice.

So I went on a mission to make myself some delicious plantain containing food for breakfast lunch and dinner. When I whipped this plantain lasagne out of the oven in the hostel, there were a lot of envious hungry travellers!

R E C I P E S

Here are three recipes for..

1. Gluten Free Plantain Pancakes

2. Plantain Coconut Rice

3. The Famous Plantain Lasagne

 

GLUTEN FREE PLANTAIN PANCAKES

I’m really missing making pancakes at home and I love plantains so these babies were born. I boil all the plantains I use to reduce frying.

Ingredients (one person)
1 big yellow plantain

1 cup maize flower

1 egg

Coconut oil / olive oil

Vanilla essence (optional)

Honey to put on top! (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Mash the plantain and add a beaten egg to the mixture. Mix them until you have a liquid consistency batter.

3. Pour in the flour and mix thoroughly.

4. Heat up the oil and pour in enough mixture to make a fist sized pancake.

5. Flip and huzzah



PLANTAIN COCONUT RICE

A filling delicious lunch or dinner.

Ingredients (one person)

1 plantain

1 cup of rice

1/2 onion

1 bell pepper

1 handful of green beans

Paprika

Aji / spicy pepper

Coconut oil/ olive oil

 

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Boil more water for the rice and simmer for 20 minutes

3. Chop the onion finely, cut up the pepper and green beans.

4. Fry the onion for 2-3 minutes in the oil then add the pepper and green beans. Keep stirring the vegetables until cooked between 10-15 minutes later

5. Meanwhile they’re cooking, cut half of the plantain up into bite size pieces and the other half slice laterally.

6. Add the bite size pieces to the pan and the other larger circles brown off separately.

7. Strain the rice, put it back into the pan, mix in the coconut milk and cook gently for two minutes on a low heat.

8. Add the vegetables to the rice pan and add paprika and aji.

9. Serve the rice with the larger pieces of plantain on top. Ta- dah.

 

 

PLANTAIN LASAGNE

Just the best thing ever. Why would you ever have pasta when you can have PLANTAIN! And it´s gluten free.

Ingredients (3 people)

4 yellow plantains

500g minced meat

1 onion

1 carrot

4 tomatoes

1 egg

1 tbs tomato paste

Aji

Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

3. Chop the onions, tomato, carrots

4. First fry the onions for 2 minutes in oil, then add the chopped carrot and tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile slice the plantains into roughly 5mm strips. Cover the bottom of a 20 inch baking tray with the slices, making sure to leave enough plantain for 2 more layers.

6. Stir the vegetable mixture and in a separate pan cook the meat for 5 minutes

7. Pour the beef into the tomato mix and add the paste , aji and seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes.

8. Pour half of the mixture on top of the plantain layered baking tray, top with another layer of plantains, add the remaining mixture then finish with a final layer of plantains. For a final touch whisk an egg and pour over the top covering all of the plantain.

9. Bake for 45 minutes.

Enjoy the plaintain madness!!!!

Advertisements

5 healthy breakfasts for backpackers

How to breakfast healthy whilst backpacking around South America

Good news: free hostel breakfast

Bad news: it’s cake and squash..
..Oh and no blender, juicer, nutribullet, working oven.

Whether you’re going from hostel to hostel like me, or hotel to hotel, breakfast can be be tricky. On one hand you want to take advantage of what’s on offer for FREE, on the other hand, what is actually on offer is often unhealthy, sugar spiking and wheat/dairy filled.

Travelling across Brazil and Argentina this past month, I have found the most popular morning options to be cake, bread, processed ham and cheese, cereals, milk and, fruit-wise, watermelon, melon, papaya, apples and bananas. Occasionally I have been lazy and tempted but the result is bloating, bad skin and dark circles. It’s just not worth it. AND there is no need.
Here are 5 quick fixes for a healthy gluten and dairy free breakfast:

1. Cheap and quick chia seed pudding

No kitchen needed 


Chia seeds are a great source of Omega 3 and fibre. The great thing about travelling South America is that they’re so much cheaper to buy here than the U.K or U.S (about £2 for 500g). Health shops are common in city centres and here almond milk is readily available. Failing that coconut, soya and lactose-free milk are stocked in most supermarkets. Altogether you’re looking at about an extra £5 per week for a delicious and nutritious breakfast which will stop you splashing out satisfying sugary cravings later in the day. Prepare this the night before so there’s no need to miss out on socialising with others at breakfast.
Ingredients: 

3 tablespoons of chia seeds

1 cup almond milk

Fruit (take advantage of what’s on offer at breakfast!)

Cinammon (extra)

Nuts (extra) – brazil nuts are about £1 / 350g
Method:

Mix the chia seeds and almond milk (and cinnamon) in a bowl or glass. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge. In the morning add the fruit (and nuts). Ta-dah.

2. Great British Porridge

No kitchen needed



I am wheat intolerant I have found that I have no reaction to normal oats. Traditional porridge oats are available in most supermarkets and cost about £2.50 and lasts me about 2 weeks. If you need gluten-free certified porridge, it is stocked in most health food shops which are plentiful in the city centre. Invest in some dairy free milk as described in the above recipe. You can either prepare this in the kitchen (normally next to where breakfast is served in the hostel) or simply take your oats to breakfast and let them soak for about 10 minutes in boiling water (availble at breakfast).

Ingredients:

Oats

Almond milk

Fruit
Method: 

Add 50g porridge oats and 350ml almond milk. Put in microwave for 3 mins or on the hob for 6!

3. Versatile eggs

They’re cheap. They’re protein. They’re versatile. Go omelette with tomatoes, scrambled with avocado, poached with spinach or fried with mushrooms. Eating fruit for breakfast is tasty and free. However avoid the morning sugar spike and mix it with protein from eggs (and fats from coconut oil!)
Ingredients:

Eggs.

4. Banana pancakes 


Top your hostel breakfast. Yes everyone may be enjoying the toast but up your game. They’re really easy to make, a good mix of sugar and protein and toppings provide an additional source of nutritionist.
Ingredients:

2 bananas

Half an egg

Toppings (see below)
Method:

Mash the bananas till smooth and add a whisked egg. For full on gluttony add toppings. I love walnuts, peanut butter, dark chocolate, berries and more banana.

5. Acai (Brazil exclusive)



I’m afraid this one only really works if you’re travelling around Brazil. There are minimal steps to this one. Leave your hostel. Walk a maximum of 5 minutes until you find a corner shop which sells fresh acai. Spend less than £2. Enjoy.
Look forward to backpacking breakfasts!

How to do an overnight bus properly

If you’re travelling around South America on a budget, it’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself on a 15 hour (or more). However, there is no need to dread them! I’m a few long bus journeys down and I’ve cracked the code. Here are my best tips.
Booking

A simple A to B google search will bring up the right page to book online. However if you’re booking a bus from Brazil you will need a CPF number (a Brazilian identification number). So if you haven’t already made friends with the hostel staff, do! You can use a local’s CPF (with their permission) and then book your ticket in your name. Failing this, booking your bus from the terminal on the day is no issue. I have yet to be on a full bus, even on a Friday/ Sunday evening.
A word about TIMING. If you’ve got a 15 hour bus, don’t waste a day, choose over night. You can get a very decent night’s sleep if you choose the right seat.


There are various seat options online. From cheapest to most expensive the choices are: executivo individual, semi-cama, coche cama and promo cama ejecutivo. You’ll always want to choose promo cama ejecutivo “promo executive bed” where possible. This option is the most expensive but if you check the currency conversion, it is often only £5-10 more then economy “executive individual. Just think that you’re saving on a whole night’s accommodation!
If you are booking in advance, I have found it best to get to the bus terminal about 40 minutes before departure so you have time to brush your teeth in an actual toilet and change into some warmer clothes as the buses are often very cold, especially at night.


Essential items to bring

Pack for the artic. It is advisable that you have a couple of warm layers in your hand luggage. I get really cold so normally wear a thermal, t-shirt, jumper and a light jacket. I would also advise a blanket (I use my towel or beach sarong) and if you’re carrying a sleeping bag/ or sleeping bag liner keep that in your hand luggage too!
I have no shame in admitting that I sleep for about 9 hours on these buses! Most of the credit must go to my faithful neck pillow. I would recommend an inflatable one and always pick the softest! I also love an eye mask. The bus gets pretty light from 6am, even with the curtains drawn. Earplugs/ headphones are essential for drowning out the odd unhappy baby and general noise.
In terms of theft, i’ve personally never had a problem on any bus in South America. However, I do know people that have! To be on the safe side, I always keep all my money, cards and phone in my money belt which I wear the whole journey. I also padlock my rucksack shut and keep it by my feet.

Entertainment

I am confident to say I have officially aced overnight bus entertainment. It’s all about the pre download. Spotify, BBC iplayer and Sky app’s have become sacred for these journeys. Although technically speaking you cannot get access UK TV apps abroad, I have heard that you can download Tunnel Bear app, pay a monthly fee of £3 and get unlimited VPN (i.e hiding your location). You can download endless films and episodes before you leave. Before I started travelling, I was not a TV person. However I have come to realise that it is a successful way of escaping the reality of a long bus!
I also always bring a book but its often too dark to read and turning your light on tends to light up the entire bus of sleeping people. It just depends how many evil stares you can stand..

Food

Last, but certainly not least, food for the journey. Long buses often make stops every few hours. However the food available in the service station is often wheat based, fairly unhealthy and very expensive.

Whenever I can, I prepare some food ahead. Most hostels have kitchen facilities and tupperwares are easy to find in any supermarket. I normally prepare some dinner, snacks and maybe breakfast. Not all food travels well. Including bananas. Which i found out the hard way. Here are some of my healthy faves to take on the bus.
Dinner:

Quinoa

Cooked veg (peppers, aubergine, tomatoes, carrots)

Salad (make sure it has been cleaned with filtered water as drinking the tap water can make you ill so washing lettuce leaves in it is not to be advised)

Sweet potato fries

Snacks/ breakfast:

Unsalted nuts

Popcorn 

Apples

Tangerines

Quinoa with peanut butter, dark chocolate (absolute FAVE)

I’ve grown to love a good overnight bus. A couple of hours of relaxation, often no wifi and sleep.
Feet up, belly full, David Attenboroughed out, I wish you a beautiful night’s sleep!

Backpacking with intolerances and allergies

Daunting. To leave local shop shelves stacked plentifully with wheat and dairy alternatives was no easy decision. Neither was saying goodbye to my nutribullet, juicer, steamer and cupboard full of ingredients.

I get a lot of enjoyment from cooking. Whether it’s whipping up a gluten and dairy free quiche or some raw brownies. I appreciate great tasting food (which is always that little bit more delicious if you’ve made it yourself). Even more important still, is the satisfaction of filling my body with maximum nutrition and avoiding those foods which do not agree with me (wheat, dairy, onions, apples..). The last few years I have relied on my diet to keep me in good mental and physical health following personal illness. Although my diet is important to maintain, it shouldn’t stop me from travelling around South America!
In fact many packaged “superfoods” we see on our shelves are from in South America. First stop Rio, home of coconut water and açai!! Looking forward to trying some Yucca and cupuaçu.

Stay tuned!

img_3526