Puerto Rico

Walking to work in 20 degrees this morning was a chilly welcome-back from 10 days in perfect, 85-degrees everyday weather in Puerto Rico. I’m all stocked up on my vitamin D to survive the winter now.

We spent the week in Fajardo, PR hiking through mongroves to reach beautiful 8 mile long red sand beaches, snorkeling with manatees, and kayaking at night to a bioluminescent bay.

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Sitting on the beach reading or just watching the waves crash on the rocks is an instant stress reliever. I don’t consider my self easily stressed out, but I was so relaxed on the beach with my phone off and away. One lesson I took away that I’m planning to incorporate into my day is a social media detox every few months for a weekend or a few days, as well as ending and starting my day with computer-free relaxation or self-reflection.

There’s no need to be plugged in every waking hour. Checking your email first thing when you wake up and last thing before you go to bed adds unnecessary clutter and stress to your life. I tend to reach for my iPhone on the bus or when I have a few seconds of few time rather than just being calm and present with my thoughts. Instead, I plan to begin my day with a few sun salutations or moments and end my day reading a book (not random internet articles), writing in a journal, or stretching or foam rolling.

Of course, we also ate delicious, fresh food.

There’s nothing more fresh than the server bringing out a plate of freshly caught raw red snapper, asking me to pick which fish I wanted, and serving it to me 20 minutes later.

All the places we went to used fresh, simple ingredients in a local, creole sauce to prepare outstanding meals.

One of the best meals I had was the fresh red snapper served on the bone, topped with onions and peppers in a creole sauce, a small lettuce and tomato salad, alongside mofongo (mashed plaintains). With a pina colada made with Puerto Rican rum, of course.

A local guy at our bed and breakfast recommended a little cafe located on top of a hill. We ventured out to find a cafe on the 3rd floor with gorgeous views overlooking the biobay and the ocean. The owner Gladys greeted out and told us that she had a fresh fruit platter. Of course, we ordered it. I was expecting a normal fruit salad, but what we received was perfection on a plate.

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It was freshly chopped tropical fruit (banana, mango, papaya, orange, and more) topped with slivered almonds and shredded coconut. The perfect touch was a homemade cinnamon-ginger-honey sauce, which are my absolute favorite spices. We devoured the plate and returned 2 days later.

Fresh, natural food provides all the flavors we need to activate all our senses. Experiment with spices, new foods to you, or different recipes. Simplify your cooking. Many people are scared of cooking because they think it’s too time-consuming or too complicated. It doesn’t have it be – just chop a few different vegetables, saute or roast them, and serve alongside a baked or grilled piece of fish, meat, or other protein. Next time, experiment and toss on a few spices. Some of my favorites are curry, cumin, turmeric, chipotle or chili powder, a lemon pepper mix, ginger, and cinnamon. You’ll have a simple, balanced, and flavorful meal within 20 minutes. It probably takes about the same time to prepare Hamburger Helper or Pasta-a-Roni.

It’s safe to say that I’ll be back to Puerto Rico at some point, and in the meantime, I’ll be making that fruit salad every chance I get.

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