By Shirin Yadegar
Traveling with four kids for a month in Israel and Italy equates to a lot of leftover shwarma, pasta and pizza on the little one’s plates that’s hard to resist.
My family loves fine dining so our travels are always focused around our next meal. We search for the best chefs, local organic fare and a fun atmosphere.
We recently returned from what was truly the best vacation of our lives. We spent two weeks in Israel celebrating my eldest daughter’s bat mitzvah and then flew to Italy where we spent another two weeks devouring the best tuscan cuisine.
So how did we manage to stay gluten free, organic and still enjoy all that these fabulous countries had to offer?
Breakfast in Israel is the best meal of the day so go to town! Fresh fruit, cheeses and yogurts. Stay away from the bread. It’s not even that good.
Lunch by the beach is perfect. Have an Israeli salad. It’s too hot to eat anything heavy anyways.
Dinner for us was incredible because we were celebrating my daughter’s bat mitzvah so the evenings were packed with amazing meats, shwarmas and the dozens of salads that Israelis bring out with the food. Stick to the protein and salads. It’s filling and tasty. Don’t have the pita with the shwarma. Just eat the meat with the hummus.
I managed to enjoy every meal in Israel without feeling too full but still savoring all the different flavors and spices of this fabulous country.
Italy was more challenging. You can’t possibly ignore the pizza, pasta and gelato so go ahead and indulge but carefully.
Italian breakfasts are scarce. Since they eat a big lunch and dinner, breakfast is simply a dry croissant and cappuccino. So for breakfast, I suggest the cappuccino with some fresh fruit. Skip the bread. It’s dry and not worth the calories.
Save your bread intake for lunch where you can eat the most incredible thin crust pizza and fresh pasta. At lunch and dinner, I would order some type of salad because I knew that the kids wouldn’t finish their pasta and pizza so that would be my portion otherwise I would eat my pasta and theirs too. Like me, if you don’t eat gluten or wheat at home don’t be frightened (unless you have an allergy). Italy doesn’t allow gmos or premature cutting of the wheat so the pizza and pasta won’t irritate your stomach the way it does at home. I promise. I ate it almost every day for two weeks and I was fine.
The summer heat in Italy lends itself to twice daily consumption of gelato, but don’t worry because the portions are small so two servings are really like one.
By now you’re thinking, holy cow did Shirin come back a whale. Actually, with all the food I ate I only gained 2 pounds because we walked, biked and swam daily. We were active and having fun so the food didn’t sit for long.
I’ve been back in LA for a week and lost my 2 pounds so it was well worth it. Hope you are all enjoying your summer with savory food, fun activities and lots of family time. Ciao.