Cuenca Holidays! Have fun without blowing your diet

Nov 2, 2017 | 1 comment

Cuenca’s 3 De Noviembre celebrations are just a blast! We’re excited to enjoy this third year in Cuenca, and love the art and music. Street food is often a part of the celebration, so let’s celebrate in style, con salud en mente.

Remember, “diet” is not a four-letter word signifying deprivation.  No, your diet describes the foods and beverages you typically eat and drink to stay healthy, energized, and at a weight that suits your comfort level.  Here in Cuenca, the city of muchas escalaras, just walking around town can be an aerobic experience, and many of my clients and friends do just that. You can too!

Cuenca Days are wonderful for staying active, and by keeping in mind these top tips, you can enjoy all the festivities without regrets. Oh, yes, there’s a boatload of junk food around every corner — deep-fried, high-sugar stuff may taste good at that first bite — no doubt, these foods are cheap and engineered to appeal to those flavor receptors. But they’ll leave you with a grease-coated tongue and blood sugar surge… and you may wonder why your stomach aches?  But, don’t worry; there are plenty of healthy options!

Top Tips For Healthy Eating: Cuenca Days 2017

Eat This:

  1. Don’t go hungry. Always have a good breakfast and then go exploring — just think how when you’re starving you seem to gravitate for the greasiest foods.
  2. Breakfast: Include plenty of energy-stoking protein: a couple of eggs, some avocado, tomato, and whole grain bread, or for vegans, avocado and peanut butter on whole grain bread. Always skip the juice (as much sugar as a glass of regular soda) but include a cup of whole fruit such as piña, kiwi, banana, mango, papaya, and berries.
  3. Check it out. On that full stomach, head out and explore, all the while identifying booths and locations that offer foods that fit into your healthy diet for later on. Grilled chicken, beans and rice, fresh fruit, chocos and salsa, ceviche — what’s your choice? Feel free to add a comment below.
  4. Dine at your favorites! Visit your favorite go-to restaurants instead of street food. Many are open throughout the weekend. A great option for healthy dining are the food courts at the mercados. I love the encebollado (fish soup) upstairs at Mercado 10 de Agosto on Calle Larga y General Torres. Served with baked corn nuts and pickled onions, it’s a meal!
  5. Empanadas. A street fair wouldn’t be a street fair without sampling some local foods, and a baked empanada, either vegetarian or chicken, is a good option. So are humitas, steamed corn cakes in cornhusks.  Llapingachos are potato patties stuffed with cheese and grilled.  A cup of colada morada — Ecuador’s spiced berry and purple corn drink, and a cute guaguas de pan (bread baby) is a celebratory treat without making you feel like you need to lie down.

Instead of This

  1. Salchipapas. The most highly engineered, least nutritious foods on the planet.  Deep-fried, salted fries with deep-fried fake meat (they call it sausage, but it’s really just fake meat), drenched with fatty mayonnaise and sugary ketchup. You’re talking about 800-1000 calories in one bowl.  Skip it.
  2. Fried dough. This comes in many forms, from churros to donuts, typically dusted with powdered sugar. Some are coated with chocolate, others topped with cream.
  3. Ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs. You’re not going to be enjoying healthier pastured beef on the street, and the quality and quantities of these meats are sure to give you that stomachache later on. Most barbeque sauces are full of sugar too.
  4. Fried onion rings. Like cheese fries, vendors take a healthy vegetable and transform it into a fat sponge.  Besides the excess of low-quality fat (probably GMO soybean oil) the sodium content is through the roof! Just three onion rings have about 200 calories, and 1,000 mg of sodium, about half of what’s healthy for the entire day.

Finally, there’s far more to a street fair than food.  The artists and musicians are so fabulous, and just walking around and enjoying the crowds is sometimes the best entertainment, don’t you think? Here’s a link to the schedule, and Viva Cuenca!

Susan Burke March

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