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Friday, July 12, 2013

Caribbean Eating

I am very fortunate that my grandparents have chosen to take my family on trips the past few summers in a row.

This year we went on a Caribbean cruise out of Puerto Rico- one of my favorite destinations.
I got back home about a week ago, and I am so excited that I have finally gotten around to sharing the details with you all!

I'd hyped the trip up a bit before leaving because I was so excited. And how could I not be? Countless beaches, warm weather and abundant amounts of fresh, tropical fruits are my paradise.

Although my expectations were high, the trip exceeded them. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have the opportunity to travel, as it is something that I am so passionate about. The chance to experience other cultures is amazing.

The scenery throughout my trip was gorgeous, as you would expect.

Plus there were beautiful animals everywhere I looked!

The trip began with two days in San Juan, PR. 

My mom is half Puerto Rican, so I'm pretty accustomed to the island and its cuisine.

I must say I love Puerto Rican food. A lot. And I did not often stray from my favorite dish: vegetable stuffed mofongo (usually accompanied by beans).

This particular meal was huge! I could barely finish it.

I made sure to check my trusty Happy Cow app for vegan restaurants in San Juan, and one place that caught my eye was Superfoods.

It's an adorable açaí bar and health food store. Totally my cup of tea!
I am obsessed with açaí bowls, so checking this place out was definitely a priority.

The decor was cute with a bamboo bar and colorful chalk writing on the walls.
I got my peanut butter bowl to-go, but the eat-in bowls were served in hallow coconuts. 

The location of the store seemed a little dodgy, and the service was a bit slow... But the food & ambiance is awesome and I would still highly recommend it! You might just want to call in your order ahead of time for quicker service.

Now, onto the cruise.

Our first stop was St. Thomas.

After visiting the island's famous butterfly sanctuary, I hit up a local health food store for some snacks to hold me over while shopping.

I got a Macro Greens bar and some Artisana superfood squeeze packets. Hooray!
After a few hours of exploring, I came across a restaurant/store called Natural Livity.

This was exactly what I was looking for! The food is completely vegan but it is also Caribbean- a nice change from the standard "Americanized" veg food I find at many restaurants. 
I was thrilled to try some local flavor while still staying cruelty-free.

Their menu was very extensive- ranging from sandwiches to raw desserts to fresh juices and more.
But I finally decided on a plate loaded with veggies, black eyed peas, and topped with the "daily roast".

I also stole a few bites of the "Ras Corn" that my brother ordered. It was a spicy, cheesy popcorn that is a new favorite of mine!

Port 3 landed us in Barbados- my favorite island.

The beaches are the clearest blue I've ever seen. Clear enough to find this little guy!

The third port that our cruise ship stopped at was St. Lucia.

My cousins and I wanted to hike in the St. Lucian mountains- known for their volcanoes and hot springs. Unfortunately, our rental car wasn't handling the terrain too well on the way up. Between that and our dwindling gas, we decided to turn back.
I was a little disappointed, but it was still cool just to drive around and experience the island. 
The mountains are full of stands selling fruit, beverages, and the like. 
To my delight, we made a stop at a place called Nature's Way for some refreshing, raw smoothies.

Our cruise then continued to St. Kitts and finally St. Maarten.

St. Maarten is a bit different than the other islands I went to because it is European. The shopping and the restaurants there both reflect this- not to mention the nude beaches.

Many of the restaurants charge in euros rather than dollars. 
There were not many vegan options on the beach that I went to... just lots and lots of seafood.

But when all else fails, you can get a salad! That's what I did. I was still hungry after this small meal, but luckily I had some "emergency" protein bars with me. They were enough to hold me over til I got back on the ship.

Speaking of ship, I'm sure your curious as to vegan options on board.

My breakfast looked something like this every day: Oatmeal mixed with raw protein powder (from home) and topped with nuts. Always served with fruits and sometimes vegetables.

My buffet lunches (above) were normally a smorgasbord of raw/cooked veggies and beans.

The dining room was where things got a little more interesting. 
My whole family and I met there every night to eat all together. 

Clockwise from top right: tofu stir-fry, eggplant and zucchini parmesan (minus the parmesan), portabella salad, Indian entree
I notified the wait staff the first day about my dietary preferences, and they could not have been more accommodating! 
Every night they would bring me the menu for the next day to look at. I would then choose which items I wanted to have prepared without eggs or dairy (or meat... of course).

I was also brought vegan bread and special-made vegan desserts.

Once the cruise had ended, my family and I stayed in San Juan for a couple more days before heading home.

I talked my parents into eating at a vegan friendly restaurant called Cafe Berlin one day for lunch.
I'd read lots of positive reviews and was excited to try it.

As much as I hate to say it, I was not very impressed with Cafe Berlin.
The ambiance was nice, but the food was sub-par and overpriced for such small portions.

I ordered the coconut-tomato tofu and was still hungry after devouring the whole thing.

At least the platanos were pretty good.

Sorry for being such a downer... But let me follow-up that bad review with a good review: Bajuice!

As I mentioned in my previous post, this place is awesome.
The prices are reasonable it has something for everyone, whether vegan or omnivore. 

The "monkey bowl" was so delicous. I am still dreaming of it and wishing I had an açaí bar near me!
But for now I'll just continue to make my own bowls at home- thank god for Sambazon packs.

After 12 days away, I returned home to the States- and that was the end of my Caribbean vacation.

As you can see, staying healthy and vegan while traveling is not too difficult. 
I am glad to be back in my normal routine but I did just fine when out of my element for a while.

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