It’s important to eat well while you’re on the road — drink a couple of litres of water, have five serves of fruit and veg, not over-do the alcohol. However, it can be a challenge — the hostel kitchen might not be very well-equipped, or the supermarket might not have the ingredients you need. Eating out can get expensive and often isn’t particularly nutritious either.
It’s a good idea to have a couple of tried-and-true recipes up your sleeve, that can be adapted for locally-obtainable ingredients. The following mince recipe is one of my staples — it can be used with nacho chips for nachos, or with tortillas and salad for burritos. It can be used for tacos or lasagne, can go in small pastries for an interesting finger-food option, and it can be frozen. Plus, if mince isn’t available, you can chop steak into thin strips and it works almost as well.
Versatile mince mix
One large onion
Two cans of chopped tomatoes (or about 10 fresh tomatoes, chopped finely and heated in a saucepan with a little water until soft)
One or two cans of mixed beans (or use soaked beans)
Three (or more) tablespoons of tomato paste
Oil for frying
Salt, pepper, chilli powder
Brown the mince in a frying pan or wok and drain to remove fat. Remove from frying pan. Chop the onions finely and fry until clear. Add other vegetables if you want, such as capsicum and mushrooms. Put the mince back in the pan and add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and seasonings — I always add sweet Thai chilli sauce when available. Heat until bubbling then lower the heat and simmer for at least half an hour, until a lot of the liquid has steamed off and you’re left with a thick reddish mince mix.
It’s pretty healthy, since it contains a lot of vegetables, and you can make it healthier still by serving it with a salad of locally-grown produce (carefully washed, of course). If avocados are available, a logical accompaniment is guacamole:
One ripe avocado
One medium-sized tomato
Half an onion
Half a teaspoon of salt
A squeeze of lemon juice
One tablespoon of sour cream
Dice the onion into tiny pieces. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the chopped onion and squeeze in. Set aside. Chop the tomato into small (3mm cubed) pieces. Mash the avocado and stir in the lemon juice and sour cream. Add the tomato and onion and stir until mixed in. Easy.
If sour cream isn’t available, thickened cream also works, or just leave it out for a less-creamy flavour.
Serve with burritos or nachos, or alone — crackers or bread are a good accompaniment, or chop carrots or red peppers for a tasty, healthy alternative.
If you need something filling and don’t have much time, fritters are a good option. The batter can be adapted to be sweet or savoury, and they can be a good finger-food option or form a part of a larger meal, accompanied by salad.
3/4 cup of flour
One teaspoon of baking powder (or one cup of self-rising flour instead of plain flour and baking powder)
Salt and pepper to taste
One cup of “something” (banana, cream-style corn, canned tuna and tomato: be creative)
Oil for frying
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together. Add the egg and “something” and mix until combined. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in frypan and add tablespoons of batter (use a teaspoon if you want to make cute finger food). Cook until golden then flip.