I’ve been on vacation for the last week and have been making my way through several European cities. Today, I’m in Brussels, sitting at a very cute sidewalk cafe. It’s raining just a little, but I’m under the awning. Otherwise it’s been beautiful weather since I got here.

I’m having lunch and it’s about 4:30 (it makes perfect sense since I’ll be eating dinner around 10). The sun rises here at about 5:30 am and lasts til about 10pm. My first day in Amsterdam I was walking the streets looking for a place to have dinner while the sun was up and it seemed like 5pm. I kept looking at my watch thinking – is it really 9:30 pm or did I set it wrong?? But, it was really 9:30. The summer days are long… it’s nice!

When I’m on vacation, or traveling I always fit in exercise. And truly, there’s no better time to do it than when on vacation. Since we have so much more time to ourselves an hour or so per day for a workout really isn’t that hard to fit in.

When away for long stints I’ll find a hotel with a gym, or pay a day fee for a local gym a few times. It’s also very easy to throw on a pair of running shoes and take off on a run – even though so many European cities are filled with hills, which makes running even more of a challenge! But it’s all good, because burning off a few extra calories before eating a variety of foreign foods at unfamiliar restaurants is never a bad idea!

Speaking of food, I’ve been trying to get my daily servings of vegetables and it’s not been too easy! It’s been on my mind even more lately because we recently discussed it in the Mind Body Blast diet and exercise e-course. The students found out pretty quickly that vegetables are much healthier and tastier in their true, low calorie form when eaten from home where you cook them yourself. That’s even more obvious to me while on my trip here.

Here, like in America, many restaurants’ idea of a plate of veggies is a salad loaded with iceburg lettuce and not much else (blah! And not many vitamins or fiber in that, either.). It’s especially true when traveling through tourist areas. This isn’t true for all of them of course, but it takes a while and some research to find places that serve a variety of fresh, healthy vegetables. Since I’m not going to be here that long, I just have to hit or miss.

In Amsterdam, the first city of the trip, the restaurants I visited listed vegetables on the entree but what they meant was a few sprigs of lettuce, a slice of cucumber, and a shaving or two of carrot. Hmm.. that’s ok for a day or two, but after that I was really craving some serious tasty crunchy roughage.

When I arrived in Brussels the first dinner I had was steamed mussels. I saw they had a side-dish of vegetables on the menu – carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans. It was just what I needed, of course! So I ordered it.

When the beautiful dish of greens came out, on my first bite I could tell this wasn’t my average plate of vegetables… they were cooked in …. butter. I have no idea how much, but they were really buttery!! Yes, of course, they were yummy. But knowing what I do about food, these veggies were probably a whopping 400 Calories for the plate, when I could’ve had all that for less than 100 Calories sans butter. Delicious though they were, I only had 2 forks full. If I had eaten them all I would’ve needed to call it dessert!!

Lucky for me, there were tons of celery, carrots, and endive in my mussels and the broth was chicken based. It was a veritable vegetable soup! Mmmm. I ate all of that, and called it a serving and a half of veggies for the day.

I have a plan for diet success when traveling that always works if restaurants don’t suffice: Go to the grocery store and pick up some greens and fruits to keep in the hotel. I’ll do that tomorrow and have them for breakfast and snacks. I’ll leave the savory meat and potatoes, delicious European coffee and delectable breads to the restaurants.  Then it’ll truly be “Bon Apettite” for me!