Prague: A Fairytale City Full of Comfort Food

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My only regret from this past weekend was that I did not get nearly enough time in Prague. It’s truly a travesty that my time there was so limited, which means the positive outcome of that is now I know I want to come back and spend many more days here, and bask in this enchanted city. Prague (or Praha) has two of my favorite things; very tasty, filling, comfort food and buildings that look like a European fairytale. I was happy to arrive and at least get a few hours of sunlight.
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I feel like I don’t need to explain Prague too much, just because I didn’t get to spend enough time there to get the full picture on the place, but Levi and I just leisurely walked around the city, ate some great, tasty food, walked across the Charles Bridge, felt very happy to be in such a gorgeous place, and watched the sunset. It really was a perfect day. Our hotel room was also very nice and comfy, included a large buffet breakfast, and featured the most amazing shower I’ve ever been in (a place to sit and let jets of water massage your back). I was actually quite sad to leave the next morning, but I’m at least comforted to know that I will definitely be coming back soon.
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Low Carb Dieting and Travel

Since the summer of 2012, I’ve been doing a low carb diet on and off. It’s the only diet that’s actually ever worked for me. My body is weird when it comes to losing weight, and can’t do it in a regular way (working out and eating healthy). I tried for years to do the normal method with no success, and finally found that the low carb lifestyle does wonders for me. Obviously, there’s many problems with it. For those who don’t know what it entails, you can read more about it here, but a basic overview of a keto or low carb diet is that you must keep your carb consumption to under 50 grams a day to allow your body to go into a state of ketosis, which is a fat burning mode.

This makes life a bit hard at times. Almost all the good food in the world is full of carbs. A single piece of bread can sometimes have over 50 grams of carbs in it, meaning you basically can’t have anything with wheat in it. The basic food groups you can eat are vegetables, cheese, eggs, meat and any low carb products you can get your hands on. Creating a meal plan can be easy, but get’s repetitive due to the lack of food choices. When I’m strictly on it (like right now), my day consists of eggs with cheese and meat in the morning, some cheese and veggies for lunch, an Atkins bar as a snack, and some kind of meat and veggies for dinner. It requires a lot of cooking and pre-planning out meals.

Which leads me to the topic of this post; Low carb dieting and travel. It is almost an impossible task. It’s tough to hop around or be out all day sightseeing when you are on a keto diet, because the food options are limited for someone who can’t eat carbs. Most of the food you can buy on-the-go, unfortunately is full of carbs. If you’re lucky, you can find a grocery store, but then you still have to be picky about what you buy. Many restaurants are not big fans of altering your order to make sure it’s low carb, especially in countries outside of America. America knows most of their citizens are on some kind of diet, which is why many menus now have low calorie or low carb options, but outside of the US, most places don’t care to cater to your weird demands about the food.

So how do you do a low carb diet while traveling? It’s all about pre-planning. It kind of sucks to have to worry about food when you’re trying to enjoy yourself on the road, but if you’re stuck to any food restrictions, whatever your diet consists of, you have to plan in advance so you’re not going off with nothing. If you’re staying in a hostel or Airbnb location with a kitchen, you can cook your own breakfast in the morning. Most breakfast or brunch places with have low carb options like eggs and meat, so that shouldn’t be hard to find. Lunch, dinner and snack time gets a bit harder. Before you leave, purchase some Atkins bars or other low carb snacks you like, and then pack them in your bag. It’ll be almost impossible to find these items in a local grocery store in a foreign country, especially when you don’t speak the language. If you are starving and find a store, buying a package of meat and cheese usually does the trick for me. Most places also have pre-packaged salads now too, which are good for on-the-go. For dinner, if you do want to splurge for a nice meal, finding a steak option is usually the best way to go, because often it will come with vegetables, which are safe items.

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A salad and a cup of tea or coffee are good on-the-go items for low carb travelers.

Do I wish it was easier to travel and diet at the same time? Yes, obviously. I wish I didn’t have to worry about my weight like so many people do, but I was put into the body I ended up in, and have to deal with that accordingly. For me, low carb is the only thing that works with my system, which means I’ll always have a harder time than those who can eat whatever they like and then work out for a bit to negate the calories. I’ll always struggle, and it’s not ideal, but I can cope. I know food is one of the great delicacies of traveling, and I hate to punish myself while abroad and not eat the wonderful and tasty foods of a new country, but for now, I figure this is for the best, and I hope other low carb or keto travelers can find this helpful for their own journeys.

Anyone have any dieting tips for travel? Let me know in the comments!

Starbucks US vs UK

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I hate to start any of my writing with a disclosure (funnily enough, I’m writing this while listening to the music group Disclosure), but I know this topic will be seen as totally dumb and such a #firstworldproblem to write about, but I also figured for how ever many people think it’s irrelevant, there will be a bunch of people who would like to know the difference. With that being said, here are the US/UK differences I’ve found out about my beloved Starbucks.

On my last study abroad adventure, I hadn’t really become a Starbucks fan, so I can’t remember going there enough to have noticed any differences. The only thing I do remember is the fact that, while most of the UK doesn’t drink egg nog, and you can’t find it anywhere, Starbucks is the one place that will have it. But since 3 years ago, I’ve grown a very large affection for this corporate chain, and have spent many hours there blogging, as well as drinking their coffee. I was assuming since it’s a global company, the coffee would be the same quality in the UK as the US… I was wrong to assume that.

Half & Half vs Skim Milk

In the United States, it is common to put half & half or cream in our coffee. We are also used to having many options of milk-like products to put in our drinks. It’s definitely not a burden to the barista to put soy milk, almond milk, or even non-fat milk in our coffee. But in the UK, the only options out for pouring are skim milk and semi-skimmed milk. When I asked for cream (or pouring cream as they call it), it’s rarely available. They do have full-fat milk, but I’ve gotten the sense that it’s a task to ask them to put it in my drip coffee.

Quick Heat Oven vs Panini Press

I am so used to asking for a breakfast sandwich or a scone and having them throw it into their oven to warm up in 30 seconds. It’s so wonderful to get a quick meal that way. Not only are the food choices at the UK Starbucks completely different (lots of toasties, croissants and cookies), they don’t use the ovens, and instead use panini presses, which can only warm up the sandwiches and take a lot longer to get a meal from. If I order a muffin, it means I have to eat it at room temperature, which having an option of making it warm would’ve been nice.

Strength vs Weak

I order drip coffee (or brewed in the UK), because it’s cheap and is normally a strong taste that I enjoy drinking. I can not get on board with this weak flavored water they like to brew over here. I guess coffee really is an American thing, or maybe I’m spoiled being from the coffee capitol of the world, Seattle, but I expect my coffee to taste better. So far, it’s been bitter and rarely savable with sweeteners and milk. It’s almost undrinkable to the point that I’m thinking I might have to force myself to give up coffee unless I make it myself.

Splenda vs Sweet & Low

I hate Sweet & Low. I’ll say it. It doesn’t taste good. It’s horrible. Spenda actually is a good sugar substitute that enhances a drink when you’re trying to stay away from real sugar. I have not found Splenda anywhere here yet. I may have to have my mom mail me some. It’s a bit frustrating to be stuck using Sweet & Low, especially when I know there are better sucralose products out there. It’s a tiny problem, and I know we have Sweet & Low in America too, but I never use it… Because it’s gross!

So now, you probably think I am a complainer. I feel like I get to complain at least about one thing. That’s fair, right? I’ve really liked everything else about the UK so far, so unfortunately my comfort drink of coffee has disappointed me greatly, which is sad, because when you’re so far away from home, it’s nice to have something to depend on, but oh well. I’ve tried the coffee at Costa and Pret a Manger, but they don’t aid my tastebuds either. I’ll have to suck it up and find an alternative, or else give up coffee, I guess. Wish me luck through this coffee transition. It probably doesn’t help that I am a former barista/coffee snob, but I can change!

The Brunch Generation: Homeskillet, Bellingham, WA

I read that our generation is obsessed with getting brunch, and for me, I feel that is completely true. Waking up late and going to get some well-made eggs and toast is exactly what I need most days. I started this new food reviews column called “The Brunch Generation” and since I’m not quite to London yet, I decided to write-up a brunch place in my college town.

Homeskillet is a very popular spot in Bellingham, WA for getting breakfast and lunch. It’s sort of tucked away in an area of town that most people don’t really know about, but I was introduced to it by a friend and was instantly hooked to it’s eclectic menu.

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Immediately upon walking inside, you get the feeling, just from the colors and collection of things on the walls, that you’re in a home-y place that will give you good food. There’s always a wait for brunch, and there’s a reason; the food is delicious. The water is served in mason jars, and you get coffee in a collection of thrift store mugs. The most unique thing about this place is the bathroom, which is covered in clowns; a nightmare for anyone like me who has Coulrophobia.

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The menu is famous for its homeskillets, which is a dish, served in a cast-iron skillet, and varies from a mixture of potatoes, eggs, cheese, meat and veggies. They also have breakfast burritos, hash mixtures, and a lunch menu. It makes sense that this place is always packed, because their meals are tasty, very filling, and exactly what one needs some mornings.

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I fully recommend this place to anyone passing through Bellingham, and hope to find a brunch place in London that I can come to love as much as Homeskillet.