John and I were in Florida last week, and it was one of the best vacations I’ve had in a while – it was a great mix of adventure, exploring, beaching it, exercising, cooking, dining, and sunsets.
Our vacation got off to a bit of a rocky start – we just made our connection from Charlotte to Tampa (we were those people running frantically through the airport), but sadly our luggage stayed in Charlotte for the night. We got lost in our rental car on the streets of Tampa at 1am, got pulled over by the police for not having our lights on and then had to shop for toiletries at 2am at a 7-eleven. It can only go up from there right?
We didn’t get to bed until 3am, which means I was up for almost 24 hours that day, but waking up to a blue sky, sunshine and miles & miles of amazing beach made it all worth it.
Our first stop that morning was McDonalds – I know…not what you were expecting a nutritionist to say, but it’s not what you think. We picked up coffees to enjoy while we did our grocery shopping at Publix (ok John got an Egg McMuffin).
John makes fun of me because he can’t believe how excited I get for grocery shopping while travelling. I love to cook so naturally I love discovering what ingredients & produce are available in different countries.
I was pumped because I finally found “jicama” – a juicy root vegetable that’s been on my “ingredients to try” list for a while. It tastes like a cross between watermelon and water chestnuts. It’s a healthy snack option that’s high in fibre and low in calories. I peeled & cut it into sticks, sprinkled it with salt & pepper and dipped it in hummus – definitely worth trying!
For breakfasts, we bought a big bag of pink Florida grapefruits, and ingredients to make Homemade Cereal (I love this recipe because it’s so versatile; it changes depending on where we are and what ingredients are available).
Lunches consisted of BBQ’d fajitas with organic chicken thighs, bell peppers, cilantro, and avocado. This is a great example of a healthy, easy, yummy lunch or dinner you can make with a few simple ingredients. We seasoned the chicken & peppers with cumin, sea salt & fresh ground pepper. The fresh cilantro, flavorful salsa, creamy avocado and ice cold Coronas were the icing on the cake.
Much to our excitement we got upgraded to a convertible Jeep and on Friday cruised with the top down to visit Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key; places I used to stay with my family as a kid.
At lunch we stopped for fresh grouper sandwiches & pints at a great restaurant on the water called Dry Docks. The food & atmosphere were amazing; as we enjoyed our meals, we watched a couple dolphins swim by and pelicans basking in the sun – it was perfect.
We started every morning with a run on the beach, which is one of my favourite ways to start the day. And Madeira Beach in particular was perfect for jogging; the sand was hard, and you could run for miles.
One of my favourite things about vacationing near the ocean is the fresh fish. On the nights we ate out, I ordered Pecan-Crusted Red Snapper (Guppies) and Macadamia-Crusted Grouper (Salt Rock Grill) – both were amazing. I don’t need to go on too much about the health benefits of fish: healthy source of lean protein, low-calorie and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Just be careful when you order your sides though (especially in the States) – options like loaded baked potatoes with cheese & bacon or garlic mash can add up quickly. If there are no healthy choices for sides, just pass altogether, and request one of the salads as your side! I did this at one of the restaurants, and enjoyed an amazing salad with red & yellow beets, pine nuts and goat cheese (yes the goat cheese was deep-fried, but you can’t be TOO good on vacation).
On Sunday we had champagne at sunset to celebrate our 3-year anniversary; it was the perfect ending to a perfect and much-needed vacation.
Year 1: married in Barbados
Year 2: Colombia
Year 3: Florida
Year 4: ???
John and I love travelling and can’t wait to see where we’ll be when we celebrate 4 years!