Good Morning, Good Morning! So, we’re in the land of salt and sand and bikini bods, right? So there should be healthy food options abounding, right? Well, not so much. Living and vacationing on St. John can make healthy eating extremely difficult, especially when you factor in the inevitable happy hour cocktails that drown your daily calorie count. And, well, we all WISH our priduce sections on island looked like the one in the photo above right? Well, unfortunately, that is not the case and, as we move into the off season here, I have been plotting and scheming about my own healthy choices that I intend to install in daily living in order to start next season off on the right foot. And I thought that maybe some of you would find this info useful for your next trip down or for your own healthy living track here on island 🙂
Ok, so let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. The restaurants! Bars on the beach are a dime a dozen here on St. John, but most of them don’t offer too many health conscious options. And by health conscious, I’m not talking about a romaine salad stacked with cheese and creamy dressing 🙂 I’m talking vitamins, green foods, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. The following list is one that I came up with that encapsulates some of my own healthy eating tricks when dining out on St. John.
- The obvious is the Longboard…It’s our go to when we want to dine out but want a really healthy meal. Poke bowls, crudo, brussel sprouts, tempura veggies, summer rolls and tuna lettuce wraps are a few of our favorite menu items but their fresh fish and vegetable heavy menu ensure that you can walk away feeling good about your dinner choices.
- North Shore Deli is maybe not as obvious as their super green salads and smoothies hide behind incredible baked goods and house smoked pork. But, I always manage to get into some healthy foods when I can abstain from the above and the buffalo chicken dip 🙂 The super green salad with chicken is packed with local greens, hearts of palm, and sunflower seeds. Yes, there is also bleu cheese and candied walnuts, which you could totally put a hold on, but overall this menu items is one of my go to’s for a power packed lunch. All of their meats are slow roasted in house, cutting the added preservatives from store bought deli meat. And you can do any sandwich as a wrap to cut those carbs. Try the Turkey Pesto sandwich in a spinach wrap or the Asian chicken salad as well. Oh, and a yogurt parfait, oatmeal or smoothie make for a great healthy breakfast option!
- Sam and Jacks build your own salad option is CLUTCH for an incredibly healthy meal that packs a ton of flavor and variety. Choose from Arugula, spinach, beets, crispy beets, tomatoes, cucumber, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and carrots are just a few of the wide assortment of veggies to choose from. If you’re feeling a bit uncreative upon your visit, all of their signature salads are awesome as are their veggie wraps; The Angelina, The Skinny Leg and The Madison.
- Colombo’s Smoothies is probably an obvious pick for healthy, but lets look a little closer at the ingredients they pick from. Fresh fruits, local greens, yogurt, honey, almonds, hemp, chia, flax and coconut milk all pack a compostable or reusable cup full of protein and healthy eats in a rather delicious format. Oh, they also have avocado toast and some great locally sourced salads on the menu if you happen to pop in for lunch or want something a bit more substantial than a smoothie for breakfast! You can also order online in advance for pick up via the link above if you want a quick and healthy option to grab on the way to the beach.
- A few other restaurants that offer great options for those of you looking to keep your life a bit more green, even if the rest of your party wants a cheeseburger or steak:
- Banana Deck- Their salad menu is as extensive as their sandwich menu. And, although they aren’t ALL super healthy, they are all delicious! Try the Greek Salad with mahi…hold the feta if you like, but that’s where I personally draw the line 🙂
- The Terrace- Yes, the decadence is what they are known for but their salads are always spot on! And they are always made with local greens and house made ingredients and you can add mahi or tuna for an absolutely filling meal. Also, the Mahi entrée with rice salad, sweet peas, almonds and Meyer lemon aioli offers a pretty healthy dinner option that will likely leave you with seconds for lunch the next day.
- Lovango Rum Bar- Although it is tossed in a delightful creamy dressing, their Kale Caesar Salad is one of my absolutely favorite salads! The mixed greens are also quite delightful and, once again, all of the greens they use in house are grown right here on St. John. Which makes for a super fresh and crunchy green dinner 🙂
Ok, now that we have some tips for dining out. Here’s the real challenge: Health conscious grocery shopping without breaking the bank! It seems that every time I go to the store, my bill increases by 10%. It’s not likely that I’m imagining things…EVERYTHING is growing more and more expensive here in Love City. However, I kinda like it here and am not going to let an absurd grocery bill send me to a different locale, so…Well, I always tell people to never go to the grocery store with a plan! That one thing you were planning for dinner may not be available, may be ridiculously priced or may, quite simply, look like it sat in a container for two weeks. Which it probably did 🙂
So, there are a few go to tricks I have up my sleeve to keep us relatively healthy at home….
First, I shop for produce like I’m provisioning for a long sea voyage. The greens, kale and cucumbers, they’re probably going to go bad almost immediately, so I’ll use them first. Save your potatoes, beets, squash and other root veggies for later in the week as they will keep longer. Cabbage is a great green (or purple) filler that takes forever to turn. Buy your avocados super hard so they’ll be ready to go by the end of your stay, etc.
Oh, and I RARELY thrown anything away. Bananas do not enjoy this climate so I have a ton in my freezer for smoothies or baking. If berries are on sale and about to turn, freeze them too! They make for a great addition to beach cocktails, smoothies or oatmeal. Keep your whole grain breads and wraps in the fridge to prevent them from molding overnight in the humidity (this will also keep the critters at bay!).
Unfortunately, outsourcing to St. Thomas or stateside shopping is an inevitable part of keeping a healthy diet here on St. John without breaking the bank. Although I can generally find some decent fish at Starfish Market or Calabash, the price tag doesn’t match up with my general cost of living budget 🙂 If you are able to stop on St. Thomas at Cost U Less on your way over, salmon, chicken breast, veggie burgers, ground turkey, large bags of brown rice, healthier snack options and great produce at a lesser cost is what you will find.
When I head back to the states for a visit, have friends or family coming down or have the time and wherewithal to place a VitaCost order in a timely manner, these are the things on my shopping list that are generally a bit too spendy for my budget here on island:
- Healthy Oils: Olive, Coconut, Avocado
- Dried fruits and nuts
- Sodium free spice blends
- Quinoa, Cous Cous and other grains
- Smoothie additive powders
- Healthy snacks and dark chocolates
A few other quick pointers that make eating healthy on island fun:
- Take a trip to Josephine’s Gardens and grab some SUPER fresh greens and other veggies for your stay. Because they are grown here and not shipped in, they will definitely last the course of your week on St. John
- Go Fishing! Book a fishing trip at the beginning of your stay and if your day is fruitful, you’ll be eating poke, ceviche and grilled fish for the rest of your vacay.
- Visit the local vendors: The ladies in the park and in front of Connections always have a wide variety of local fruits and veggies to choose from.
- Go to St. Thomas on Saturday morning: The Saturday morning Farmer and Fisherman’s market on the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie will pack your fridge with local deliciousness for the week. And, it’s an awesome little field trip that will immerse you in the local offerings of the USVI.
- Head to Coral Bay: Calabash Market and the (soon come!) Coral Bay Fresh Market
I hope all of this has been helpful for all of you health conscious vacationers and residents out there. It surely helped me put my mental checklist together! Now, let’s get those fresh squeezed margaritas mixed up and put our grocery lists together 🙂