H/B/F: best of the Netherlands — food and drink

Oops!  I moved onto Bruges before I shared our food highlights!

I was so impressed with how healthy (i.e. real food, lots of fruits and veggies, balanced meals, etc…) some of the menu items were in the Netherlands!  Despite Europeans’ diets becoming more and more Westernized (boo!), those across the pond still tend (seem to?) eat more real food, and perhaps less of it, than us Americans.  However, on past trips, I’ve really struggled with all the heavy, rich and indulgent foods we’ve had while traveling.  On the one hand, of course I want to try ALL THE THINGS. But, when traveling for upwards of a month and not working out (like on past trips), all those multi-course meals can really weigh a girl down.

So, back to the healthy food in the Netherlands.  Coupled with the fact that I was on my own for most of my lunches while Andrew was working, I had a blast seeking out delicious, healthy (yet unique) options.

Here’s our first official lunch, eaten at a little bistro while on an exploratory walk of Haarlem.  As you can see, it’s a beautiful salad with oranges, fennel, avocado, lima beans and pomegranate seeds. Andrew chose beef empanadas, also served with a salad.

Here’s my first lunch on my own, eaten after a long, hot run.  Mackerel salad (like tuna, but way more flavorful) and a local beer.  Yes, there is mayo on that bun. No, I didn’t care, as I assumed it was either homemade or (at the very least) not full of the crap that’s in our mayo here. I still remember how that sandwich tasted.  Delish!

Here’s another lunch on my own, beef carpaccio (thinly sliced seasoned raw beef), atop bread (I actually picked it out as it was just simple sandwich bread), with arugula, pine nuts, pesto, fried eggs and local cheese.  It was super unique and very good. 

Here’s a treat at our hotel lounge, my new favorite beer and carrot cake.  I don’t know where they got it, but that cake was some of the best I’ve ever had.  

Yet another lunch on my own, this was my second lunch at SLA.  It’s a cute salad/soup/sandwich place just a block or two from our hotel.  I LOVED this smoked salmon/capers/pickled onions/dill potatoes/radish combo.  Must re-create.

Here’s one of the best coffees I had while in the Netherlands.  I actually had a lot of trouble getting regular *iced* coffee, as more than once I was handed a cup of cold coffee with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Delicious, but a bit more of a treat than I wanted.  This coffee, from a little cafe next to Reypenear Cheese, was absolutely heavenly.  Iced, barely sweet and topped with a delicate foam.  

Here’s my solo dinner in Amsterdam, from a cute place known for having inventive dishes.  The mention of beets and coconut risotto with mahi mahi really caught my attention on the chalkboard.  

Another thing I wanted to share was SPRINKLES.  Apparently, the Dutch eat sprinkles on buttered bread.  (I never actually saw this happen.)  At breakfast each morning at our hotel, there was a very attractive display of boxes upon boxes of sprinkles–in all sorts of flavors–along with jam, honey and Nutella containers.  I finally asked a local, who told me that eating sprinkles on buttered bread is a thing.  It seemed like she was trying to tell me it’s almost what we’d call a ‘comfort food.’  I tried the combo while I was there, and I have to admit, it’s good!  A little sweet for breakfast, but very good nonetheless.  The sprinkles are less waxy than our sprinkles are; they are much less dense and very dry and crunchy.  After I got home, I looked up the De Ruijter brand and I found a brief history.  I did bring one of these little boxes home, and am looking forward to having a slice soon!  

My birthday fell on market day in Haarlem, so we had a picnic at the local library (one of my finds for reading or talking to Emily on the phone) with items we bought.  Andrew tends to seek out whatever rotisserie chicken is available and strawberries, and I grabbed a cold salad and a green juice at a prepared foods stall.  We each chose coconut macaroons from a baker’s table.

Later that night in Amsterdam, we found a little brasserie in which to eat dinner.  It was SO HOT that day–can you tell by our faces??  I ended up having one of my favorite dinners: white asparagus, butter lettuce, smoked salmon and dill with egg salad. I love dill, especially with creamy salads (egg, potato) and it goes especially well with salmon.  

Close-up shot so I can recreate it!!

H/B/F 2017: rijsttafel

Andrew, Frank and I enjoyed a ‘rijsttafel’ (“rice table”) the other night at one of Rick’s recommended Indonesian restaurants here in Haarlem.  A little history: Indonesia was a Dutch colony until World War II and the area was known for their spices (think ‘spice islands’).  We’ve seen more than the usual amount of Indonesian places here so far in Holland.

A rijsttafel is designed for two or more diners and includes a large bowl of white rice and multiple additional dishes, all with unique flavors.  I counted about 5 or 6 meat dishes (beef, chicken and pork), 4 or 5 vegetable dishes, a plate of puffed rice ‘crackers’, three hardboiled eggs in a tomato sauce and three ‘dumplings’ of some sort.

Rick advises you keep your rice ‘clean’ so you can use it with each different dish, or to cool your mouth (a few things were spicy). I’m glad I did!  I think my favorite dish was the green beans cooked with red peppers (closest to the near end of the table in the first photo), as well as a few others  Everything truly was great!  We washed it all down with Indonesian beers.




chia is a wonderful thing

I’m obsessed with making chia seed pudding.  (I know, I’m a little late to the party.)

It is seriously perhaps the easiest treat to whip up, and it’s packed with nutrition.


I got started on the chia kick when I had a delicious chia seed pudding with blueberries from Kornerstone Cafe and Juice Bar, here in East Aurora. Ever since, I’ve been making them in pint jars and having one every few days.

I typically buy unsweetened vanilla almond/cashew milk, in which case I add 1 T of maple syrup to 6 ounces milk.  Recently, the co-op was out of the unsweetened variety, so I bought the original version (which has sugar) and omitted the maple syrup.  While the bag of chia seeds claims you only need 2 T of seeds to 6 ounces water, I found it didn’t gel enough.  I increased it to 3 T seeds to 6 ounces liquid and it turned out perfectly. (I also found other sources online who use the 3:6 ratio.)

One thing I did find was that MY chia seed pudding didn’t seem to ‘gel’ quite like the commercial varieties (those I’ve seen in stores, cafes, etc..).  Yes, my pudding gelled well and had the right consistency.  However, the seeds didn’t ever seem to swell or get as translucent as others I’ve seen.  This was especially true when I made the chia cherry jam.  Not a complaint, simply an observation.

I think what I love the most is that I’m having a really nutritious treat when I’m eating chia seed pudding.  For one serving, I’m getting approximately 240 calories (180 in seeds, 60 in almond milk), 9-12 grams protein, 15 grams fiber and 7.5 grams omega-3 fatty acids. That’s a great mid-afternoon snack!