As we’ve begun our third and final route to Santiago, our conversations turn reflective as we consider the terrain covered. There is much to be said about spring, summer, and the beginnings of fall, much to learn from the distances covered, relationships made, and lessons learned over the past months of field research. But no matter what, the discussions always lead to our favorite activity: EATING.
As avid consumers of vegetables and leafy greens, it’s been a challenge to maintain our usual healthy diets from back home. Thus, we’ve been driven to incorporate the “wild” bounty into our diets, and discovered a few tricks and tips for staying healthy along The Way:
1. BOOST UP WITH BERRIES
Spring brings sweet wild strawberries, mid-summer yields mountains of mulberries, and fall bears no shortage of plump blackberries. Take a quick rest to load up. Considered “super-foods,” they’re punch full of flavor and brimming with potent antioxidants that will sustain you during long walks.
2. MINT-IFY YOUR WATER
Stick this natural stimulant in your water to cool down and stay energized on hot days. It also facilitates digestion!
3. HARVEST HERBS
Scan the sides of the trail for herbal relics such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Whether in a sandwich, tortilla, or salad, a few leaves will amplify the savor and nutritional quality of any meal.
4. GREEN UP THE ROAD SANDWICH
Grab some wild greens such as dandelion, common sow-thistle, navelwort, or lamb’s quarter to upgrade the infamous “road sandwich” often consumed during the day.
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Restaurants & Bars
5. SWAP THE FRIES
When pilgrim menus or “platos combinados” are unavoidable, ask to swap the french fries with a fresh salad.
6. SKIP THE FLAN, GRAB A FRUIT
In order to avoid processed or packaged desserts, ask for the house-made dessert and you might chance a taste of tradition. Fruit is also a great option, and although it is best not to consume post-meal, it’s a good choice especially when seasonal.
7. WHAT’S FRESH?
Spanish waiters and bartenders will usually state that everything on the menu is “good,” but will always be transparent about the “fresh” factor – whether something is frozen, canned, or from yesterday – allowing you to choose the freshest option.
Shopping for Food
8. EAT LOCAL
Small fruit stores often have produce from village gardens as well as free range eggs, Always seasonal & usually untreated with chemicals, these options are tastier and healthier than the conventional well-travelled produce.
9. PACK IN THE PARSLEY
Most food stores and large supermarkets have fresh parsley ready to give away. Add a few leaves to your sandwich, stew, or salad for some green goodness.
In the Albergues
10. COOK, COOK, COOK
Many albergues have kitchens for pilgrims to use. Not only is cooking cheaper, but it allows for much more control over what you consume (and the chance to incorporate wild foods!).