Eating Healthy (Vegan) In Panama City

My one and only concern before beginning the trip was that I might have to give up my diet. Those of you who read my person blog know that I eat Vegan and also avoid processed flour and sugar. Todd has also pretty much adopted this diet. For the curious, we eat like that because the most current scientific studies of diet have shown that to be the healthiest diet possible.

The mental discipline of sticking to the diet isn't difficult after a month or two, but finding acceptable restaurants can be quite tricky.

In Austin, TX we ate primarily at three restaurants: Casa De Luz (hi guys!), Mother's (hi ladies!), and Magnolia Cafe (hi ladies!). I don't know if a single day has passed in the past year where I was in Austin but didn't eat a meal at one of those restaurants.

Anyway, whenever I'd travel within the US, it was nearly impossible to find healthy restaurants. I'd rely, for the most part, on Whole Foods to get supplies to make my own food.

Panama doesn't have Whole Foods, though.

The first night we got here we ate Salmon. It was late and we couldn't find any healthy restaurants. To be totally honest, we didn't really look because we weren't sure they existed.

Over the next couple days we began our quest, and were very pleasantly surprised. We've been here for over a week now and eat healthy meals every day. I hate to say it, but these restaurants rival our favorites back in Austin.


We got lucky finding this one. The first night when we ate our Salmon we saw this place, closed, across the street and planned to check it out the next day.

It's like a cafeteria... they have around 20 different dishes, ranging in price from $.30 to $1.25 for a portion. You go down the line and pick all of the things you want, and you end up with a pretty huge meal for around $5.50.

Some of my favorite things here are the Eggplant Delight, which is like a vegan eggplant lasagna, the boiled pumpkin, brown rice and beans, and the absolute best... "Plantain Temptation".

Every restaurant here has plantains. They're so good. They're sweet but low glycemic, and very satisfying. Sort of like a tropical sweet potato. The Plantain Temptation is a dessert which is just baked plantains covered with honey. MMMMMMMMMMMMMM

What's totally remarkable about Mireya's is the service. As soon as we step to the counter to check out the daily offering (the dishes change every day), he gets us trays and silverware. While we pay he carries our trays outside where we eat. As we finish each individual dish he comes by and takes it away.

Casa Vegetariana

Another casa in my life?

Casa Vegetariana is owned by a Chinese couple. The woman perpetually has a smile on her face which indicates that today is the best day of her life.

There are two things that make Casa Vegetariana amazing. First, they're open until 11pm. We always want to eat late, so that works out very well.

Second, they have the best orange juice in the land. For just one dollar they hand squeeze you a large glass of the freshest orange juice you've ever tasted. Words can't express how good this stuff is. At first they'd strain the pulp out, but now that they know that we like pulp, it's like drinking a dozen whole oranges.

Equally spectacular is the price. Every portion of food is only $.50! Including the juice of the gods it's hard to spend more than $4 here.

Organica and Super 99

Organica is like a shrunken down (to the size of a living room) Whole Foods. It's not nearly as good and the prices are insanely high ($6.75 for a loaf of good bread), but... it's the only place to get healthy groceries around here.

Super 99 is the big supermarket (like HEB or Safeway) around here, and it's excellent. The selection is at least as good as any US grocery store, and has more healthy stuff than most of them. Actually, we went there right after Organica, and found several of the same items at much better prices.

We have to go back to the grocery store today because we've been eating black beans and rice and we've run out of black beans.