Travelling makes me fat. I may be walking miles and miles a day touring a new city when I’m on holiday versus my usual sedentary life in front of the television with a bag of chips back at home, but with all the tasty food I discover on my travels, I always end up gaining weight.
Resistance is futile when it comes to my love affair with food.
I lose control when I’m in Texas because of the saucy smokey barbecue everywhere I look. I lose control when I’m in Hong Kong due to all the sweet egg custard tarts and buttery pastries fresh from the oven on every street corner. I lose control when I’m in Italy because I’m busy eating the pasta, pizza and cannoli instead of touring the Roman architecture! Hey, that’s why I always pack stretchy pants in my carryon bag!
Thankfully, this wasn’t the case when I travelled to the Kingdom of Jordan. I was fortunate to spend ten days touring this beautiful country filling my belly with all the Jordanian cuisine I could find without having to go on a diet once I returned home.
Are you looking for a healthy travel destination? Look to Jordan in the Middle East!
Jordan is known for their love of grilled meat, but it’s also well known for its fresh mezze “appetisers”. Vegetarians will feel entirely at home with all the dips, spreads, and salads such as hummus, tabbouleh, fatoush, and baba ganoush — all with bright, vibrant flavours made fresh daily. Add in a manakish or two, a Middle Eastern “pizza” with toppings of cheese or za’atar (a spice blend of oregano, thyme and marjoram with nutty sesame seeds), some crisp chickpea falafels, a hearty lentil soup and you have a complete meal.
Recipes from Petra Kitchen: Jordanian Cooking School
While in Petra, I had the opportunity of visiting Petra Kitchen, a Jordanian cooking school for tourists for an evening of learning. In our 3-hour cooking class, we chopped, sliced, diced and then savoured the results of our efforts in a massive feast.
Here are a couple of the recipes from that class. They are dead simple, and easy to recreate at home.
- 2 cups finely diced tomatoes
- 1-cup bulgur cracked wheat
- 3-3/4 cups finely chopped parsley
- 2 large onions finely diced
- 3-3/4 cups finely chopped mint leaves
- 1/2-cup lemon juice (to taste)
- 1/2-cup olive oil
- 1-tablespoon salt
– Cook bulgur according to packet instructions. Set aside to cool
– In a bowl, combine tomatoes, bulgur, parsley, onions, and mint
– Add lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well
- 2-lbs eggplant
- 1 large tomato finely diced
- 1 green pepper finely diced
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
- 1-tablespoon mint
- 2-tablespoon olive oil
- 2-tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-tablespoon salt (to taste)
– Roast the eggplants in a baking dish in a 450-degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the skin of the eggplant is charred and begins to split. Cut open.
– Scoop out the pulp, and mash with a fork to a create a smooth puree
– Add olive oil and lemon juice – mix well.
– Mix in tomato (reserve a few pieces for garnish), green pepper, onion, and garlic
– Add the chopped mint.
– Season with salt to taste.
– Serve in a shallow bowl garnished with tomatoes and a few sprigs of parsley or mint.
Check out Jordan as a travel destination with adventure, culture, and history all while sticking to a healthy diet. Watch out for the sweet baklava though – they are addictive!
Mary Chong is a travel writer and food reviewer based in Canada. Mary shares travel advice, helpful tips, honest reviews, and travel inspiration for destinations throughout the world on her website Calculated Traveller Magazine.
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