There is really no hiding the fact that I ❤ food. The acts of cooking and eating are beautiful ways to connect with and nourish your body (through mindful eating), to connect with others (sharing food is LOVE), and to express yourself (as cooking is totally a means of creative self-expression IMO). I am a firm believer that feeding yourself with healthy, organic, whole foods is an act of radical self-love. Over the years, I've decided to step out on a limb and walk my talk ... all the time. So when it's time to travel, does it mean throwing away my healthy habits?
Some people call this "boring", but I call this living in alignment with my truth (may we ALL have the courage to live our truth!). Your truth may be different than mine, and that's ok. But when I'm on vacation, I want to feel energized so I can fully experience my surroundings.
...and this is why I LOVE Portland. It is one of the cleanest, most green, vibrant cities I've been to in the US, and the food is AMAZING. So let's continue on with "Portland, how I love thee - let me count the ways" (read Part I here):
2. FOOD LOVER'S PARADISE! (continued...)
Betsy's Bar None
(6327 SW Capitol Hwy, STE C)
I've eaten a LOT of protein bars in my life - some better than others. Recently, I've tried to reduce my protein bar consumption, as 1) many are high in sugar/carbs (brown rice syrup is sometimes the first ingredient! 😳 ), and 2) I'm trying to replace them with actual meals (like salads, dinner leftovers, etc - i.e. REAL food).
However, when I was at the barre3 in the Park event a couple of weekends ago, I was introduced to Betsy's Bar None. I was first intrigued by the flavors: lemon coconut, cinnamom cardamom, savory rosemary, orange poppyseed ... yum! After chatting with one of the reps, I was even more interested - their ingredients come from real, whole foods and the recipe is simple: hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, chia and flax seeds. Each bar contains 10g of protein (mostly from hemp), and:
- Offers a balance of the 9 essential amino acids
- Certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, and Kosher
- NO rice, soy, or pea protein isolates
- NO fillers (like oats)
- High protein, low glycemic index
- Soy-, nut-, and grain-free
- Paleo friendly
Two thumbs up for that! Onto the taste ... ZOMG! I tried most of the flavors and loved them all (which is rare for me) - I especially loved the cinnamon cardamom and savory rosemary. The texture was chewy without being gummy or dry. Truly a 10/10. The only downside is that they aren't yet being distributed in Southern California (YET), but you can purchase on Amazon or Betsy's Real Food website). ANNNNNNND, they will soon be carried in our barre3 La Jolla studio (you're welcome 😉 ).
(810 NW 12th Ave; Pearl District)
Let's be real - I am a smoothie and juice fanatic. They are probably the only "sweet-ish" things I consume, although most times I drink green juice or green smoothies (low sugar, alkaline). I first learned about Greenleaf when I was up in Portland for my barre3 instructor training in 2015, and I love it because the juices/smoothies are:
- Very reasonably priced!
- Cold-pressed (retains all nutrients)
- Truly raw (all enzymes intact)
- 100% organic + GMO-free
Greenleaf was definitely a destination of choice multiple times during this trip. Here's what I recommend:
- Coconut Avocado Smoothie
- Ingredients: avocado, coconut oil, shredded coconut, spinach, kale, lemon, raw cashews, almond milk, ice)
- Why I love it: It is a fat B-O-M-B. It's true - fat doesn't make you fat (more on this in another post!). When I am traveling and am walking a lot, I like to ensure I take in enough fat so that I have energy all throughout the day, rather than a sugar/carb-induced high followed by a subsequent "hangry" crash. This smoothie kept me full for over 5 hours, including a vigorous barre3 workout in the 100deg heat.
- Greens Granola Cup
- Ingredients: organic, gluten-free granola over a smoothie made with spinach, kale, apple, lime, banana, almond butter, and ice. Topped with fresh banana and blueberries.
- Why I love it: I was looking for a lower glycemic alternative to acai bowls. While I love acai bowls, I often feel a little bit sick from the sweetness/high sugar content, and find that I am hungry again in a few hours. With this option, I felt full and had a happy belly for hours.
Mi Mero Mole
(5026 SE Division St; Richmond District)
Being from San Diego, you would think that I would shy away from Mexican food in places other than SD (or perhaps from the Mission District in San Francisco). However ... I LOVE mole. Mole is a Mexican sauce that originated from the Puebla, Oaxaca and Tlaxcala regions of Mexico. The foundational ingredient of mole is chili peppers, but they can have as many as 30 ingredients, including nuts (almonds, peanuts, or pine nuts), seeds (sesame, pumpkin, squash), cilantro, seedless grapes, plantains, garlic, onions, cinnamon and chocolate. The resulting flavors are complex and insanely good. The problem with most American-made moles? They contain wheat as a thickening agent (sad trombone).
So when I learned that everything on the Mi Mero Mole menu was gluten-free, I jumped for joy! On this trip, I tried the Gabacho Bowl with Pork Mole Verde (tomatillo, green chile, fresh herbs & pumpkin seed mole) and Chicken Mole Poblano (traditional dark sauce of nuts, chiles, and chocolate), all sans dairy (cheese and sour cream). The flavors of both mole options were rich, complex, and incredible. I loved the addition of pickled onion top to provide a slightly acidic bite to cut the richness. Thankfully, there was sufficient amounts left over for breakfast the following day...win!
(925 NW Davis St.; Pearl District)
If I lived in Portland, I would literally move in next door to Prasad. Similar to Greenleaf Juice, I learned about Prasad when I was up for barre3 instructor training last year, and it was love at first bite. So naturally, I went there multiple times on this trip too. Prasad shares a space with Yoga Pearl, which contributes to the chill yoga vibe and amazing community feel. The food is vegan/plant-based, organic, gluten free gloriousness (is that even a word?). This time around, I had the "Utopian Dream Pasta": shredded green papaya, carrots, shredded kale, scallions and broccoli tossed in almond butter pad thai sauce, topped with sliced almonds, mint cilantro and sesame seeds. Visit #2 included the "Urban Bowl": mixed greens with olive oil, steamed kale, cabbage-apple kimchi, sea vegetables, avocado, carrots, scallions, hemp, sesame & toasted sunflower seeds with curry peanut sauce (pro tip: get a second serving of curry peanut sauce because it is sooooooooo good). I may or may not have indulged in a GF, vegan banana bread with dark chocolate drizzled on top ... just because.
(524 NW 14th, Pearl District)
According to their website, Verde Cocina "was born from the need to make healthy food accessible and delicious." I can get behind that, as that's my mission too. This restaurant, like so many others I visited in Portland, are 100% gluten free. Hallelujah. To up the ante, they also have a Paleo option called "Paleo Verde": stir-fried veggies, salsa, and carne asada (though chicken, pork,chorizo, bacon, eggs, or tofu were also options). Pair that with some guacamole, and it was perfecto. No food pic for this one - it went straight into my belly!
(4330 SE Division St, Richmond District)
I became obsessed with Tea Bar long before I had a chance to go there. I first heard about it through my barre3 Portland tribe, and then became enamored by their Instagram feed (beautiful, right?). In a city that is completely saturated with coffee, it's refreshing to find a place that serves high quality teas. Perhaps I am a bit biased, as I had to give up my beloved coffee last year (long story for another blog post), but I love all that Tea Bar is about:
Their menu is unique and appealing, with an array of boba milk teas, iced/hot teas and ... MATCHA. Since giving up coffee, I have grown extremely fond of matcha - the ritual around it, and how versatile it is - hot, iced, or in my smoothies. Visiting Tea Bar was just as I imagined it would be - beautiful, simple interior design, clean and open space, and a great place to chill and/or work (I could certainly envision myself bringing a laptop and making it my office for the day).
I was able to try their iced matcha at the barre3 in the Park event (YUM), so I opted to treat myself with a Cocoa Cinnamon boba milk tea, and also tried a Jasmine boba milk tea (both with coconut milk). Holy amazingness! It was a perfect cold treat in the crazy heat. I am still daydreaming about going back and trying more of their menu ... that just means I have to schedule another trip in the near future!
So there ends my eating adventure in Portland - you may be thinking that all I did was eat ... not totally incorrect! However, in Part III, I will let you in on the REAL reason I traveled up to Portland. Stay tuned!