Dining at the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro – Intro and Breakfast

It’s Emily! I’m BAAAACCKKK!!!!

As I mentioned in a post the other day, my husband and I have been away enjoying our Belated Honeymoon. I did my best to…um…”research,” yes research ALL of the amazing food options at our hotel 🙂 and I am SO EXCITED to share my eating adventures.

We stayed at an amazing little privately owned hotel in Placencia called the Maya Beach Hotel.  It’s privately owned by the amazing couple of Ellen (American) and John (Australian). We loved it the first time we read through the website. I could go on and on about the hotel, but this is a food blog so I’m going to try to stick to that. Just know that I agree with every positive review on Trip Advisor. It was that amazing.

This brings me to the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro.

Sitting on a shelf on the wall behind the bar, among other awards that the Bistro has received over the years, is a well-earned 2012 #1 Restaurant award from Trip Advisor.  From the food, to the staff, to the atmosphere, eating at the Bistro is the most pleasant dining out experience I’ve ever had. Imagine a dinner out with your family. You know how sometimes you have those amazing nights when the food is extra good, the waiter/waitress is extra friendly and attentive, and you’re more than happy to leave a hefty well-earned tip?  

That’s what it’s like at the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro. Whereas you may be lucky to have a night like this every once in a while at your nearest chain restaurant, it is exactly this amazing, and no less, every night at the Bistro. Breakfast. Lunch. Happy Hour. Dinner.

By the end of our first day there, all of the staff members had our names memorized and we felt a friendly connection to each of them.  When we entered the dining area for our final dinner on Thursday, my husband’s rum and orange juice was already sitting at our favorite table and the waiter (Cedrick, who, when taking away my cleaned plate always told me I “did a good job”) already had in the order for his Caesar salad to start.

It’s not just Maya Beach Hotel guests dining at the Bistro. From Breakfast to Dinner, you can find expats and their families and often times, other guests from other resorts who “heard about the Bistro and just HAD to come here!”

For my obviously very scientific “research” I took pictures of our meals during the trip. I didn’t catch EVERY meal for various reasons, typically one of the following:

  1. I ate it all before I remembered to take a picture
  2. I forgot my cell phone in Flip Flop Palace
  3. If it was a repeat (I had a lot of bagels…) I didn’t take a picture 

I decided to talk about the food by awarding “Superlatives.” Spoiler Alert: I can think of a crazy award for every meal because every meal deserves one. There are no losers here. 

PLEASE NOTE: Not that I have any photography skills whatsoever, but I wanted to warn that the pictures are not the best because I took them all on my phone and at dinner there’s really barely any lighting so my flash makes things crazy.

In this post we’ll start with breakfast, and then I’ll post lunch tomorrow.

So. Without Further Ado.

In the category of BREAKFAST:

Best “Beans And Toast”

Winner: Belizean Breakfast

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Belize, once a British colony, is now still part of the British Commonwealth. Unsurprisingly, this has had some influence on the food. One obvious example is the presence of the classic Fish and Chips on the menu, but my favorite is the Belizean twist on the English breakfast staple of beans and toast.

The Belizean Breakfast is just that. Eggs (your way – I had them scrambled), spicy black beans, and Fry Jacks which are like a fluffy, doughy tortillas. 

 Spicy black beans and eggs. A delicious combination that I need to see more of in my life.

Most Likely To Give You A Morning Sugar Rush

Winner: Cinnamon Roll

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Do you see this thing? It’s HUGE. I can’t even tell you the last time I had a cinnamon roll because I’m not really a sugar in the morning kind of person but when I saw these being carried out one morning, I knew I had to try it at some point. It was ooey and gooey and practically the size of my hand.

Most Likely to Make You Reminisce About Breakfast at Grandma’s

Winner: Cinnamon Roll French Toast

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It seemed that they literally cut their cinnamon rolls into slices, and then used to slices as French Toast. Delicious. I didn’t eat it but my husband did. Twice.

Best Use Of The Food Pyramid

Winner: Egg Bagel Cream Cheese Sandwich

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Homemade (daily) bagel, spread with a hefty smear of cream cheese, topped with egg (your way) and a small side of fruit.

Grains? Check! (Although not whole wheat or anything)

Dairy? Check!

Protein? Check!

Fruit? Check!

Veggies? No…but I mean…look at everything else!

Most Likely To Make Me Ask The Waiter, “Um, What Is That?”

Winner: The Fruit Bowl

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Whenever we got a side of fruit, the mixture was always different: Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Papaya (P.S. I hate papaya), Pineapple, Mango, Dragon Fruit…

Say WHAT?!?!

Dragon Fruit. I’d heard of it. Seen it online. Totally did not expect it to be placed in front of me for breakfast.  This isn’t the best picture but it’s the bright pink fruit with the little black seeds. As far as taste, it doesn’t have that strong of a flavor. It’s along the lines of kiwi, but again, the flavor is mild.

Well, I’d say this post is incredibly long enough! Back tomorrow with lunch!!

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Picking Fruits and Veggies (Emily) 

I’ve been M.I.A. for a while but for good reason! I’ve been enjoying a belated honeymoon in Belize but now I’m back!! I have several posts I’ll be putting up as soon as I find the time. They’ll cover the AMAZING food I at in Belize at the hotel we stayed at. Before I forget, however, I wanted to post a little something about fruit and veggies.

My husband and I buy all of our produce at a market called Chesapeake’s Bounty in St. Leonard, Maryland. Actually we also get all of our meat there, and have started buying our milk there as well. The only time we get produce at the typical grocery store is if I’m short on time and need it for a recipe since the Bounty is 15 minutes from our house.

When selecting produce to sell, Chesapeake’s Bounty always strives for organic, locally grown, sometimes from the on-site garden right there at the market.  However, that is not always possible in the off-season and according to their website, off-season produce typically comes from “small, quality growers in Florida.” And of course if you ever want to know exactly where something came from, they are more than happy to let you know.

That being said, of course I’d love it if my produce was organic all the time, but I know that not always going to happen and I know Chesapeake Bounty’s mission and philosophy and I’m comfortable with them picking the best quality produce.

Now…the reason for me saying all of this is to lead up to bananas. Chesapeake’s Bounty doesn’t have bananas so I always buy them at the grocery store and think nothing of it. Until Now.

While in Belize, my husband and I did a Mayan ruin tour. On the way to the ruins, the tour guide took us buy a small banana farm to show us the process of growing and picking the bananas since bananas are an export from Belize to the U.S.  The little setup was small and open-air. As in, the workers are separating the bananas and cleaning them and packaging them basically under a pavilion set up next to acres and acres of banana trees.

Here’s the process, according to our tour guide.

1. When a bunch of bananas forms on a tree, the workers go into the field and cover each of the bunches with a blue bag that is full of pesticides. The bananas continue to grow in this bag.

2. Once the bunch is fully grown, the bananas are harvested and brought to the pavilion.

3. Workers at the pavilion put the bananas through a chlorine bath.

And that’s about the time that I stopped listening. There’s more to the process but that’s all I needed to know. First the bananas grow in a bag of pesticides. And then they go through a chlorine bath.

Granted, not all of our bananas are coming from Belize, but you think the process is any better anywhere else?? Doubtful.

It’s scary to find out where your food comes from sometimes. But even  scarier to not know.

I have a feeling that because of the hard skin of a banana, it probably tests low in pesticides when all is said and done, but just knowing the process has done a psychological number on my brain.

In a related note – organic fruit and veggies can be pricey. Sometimes it’s not necessarily worth it to break the bank. Environmental Working Group came out with a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15.” Basically the  “Dirty Dozen” is a list of 12 fruits/veggies that they recommend buying organic because these tend to absorb pesticides, and therefore test high in them when pesticides are used. The “Clean 15” is a list of fruits/veggies that test low in pesticides, so it’s not necessarily important to spend the money buying these organic.

Check the two lists out here.

Tuesday Follow Up – Lisa

Today was pretty busy, I haven’t had a chance to look up any new recipes for oatmeal, but I promise I will post some this week!

The overnight oatmeal was decent.  I’m a fan of sweet oatmeal.  I wish I had a little bit of sugar or fruit to go in it.  I completely forgot about cinnamon!  How could I forget about cinnamon?  I’m going to try that tomorrow.  I think it will go really well with the vanilla flavor.

Here is a picture of my breakfast this morning:

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I try to drink a big glass of tea in the morning.  Today it was English Breakfast.  I added a little bit of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to the oatmeal.  I think it helped.

Then for lunch I had the black beans and quinoa:Image 

This is DELICIOUS!!  I think I like it better with the quinoa than I do the rice.  I didn’t add a full 1 1/2 cups of water to the pot because of all the other liquid from the cans of beans and stewed tomatoes.  It turned out perfectly fluffy.

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Here’s a close up of the quinoa.  My camera was giving me so many problems with trying to focus.  I really need to get a DSLR sometime soon.  I think it’s funny how rice is so dense and think but quinoa is so delicate.  It’s light and dainty but it fills you up quickly.  I was wolfing this down at lunch but couldn’t finish it all because I got full really fast.

The worst thing about oatmeal is that it doesn’t fill you up for that long.  I tried to add more fiber rich food to it, but like clockwork, nearly 3 hours later I was hungry again.  The only thing that keeps me satisfied all morning long is a breakfast sandwich. 

I need to experiment more with snacks in the morning.  It’s difficult because of my work schedule.  I get to work at 7.  There is a staff meeting around 9:30 every morning, then I’m usually so hungry I do some work for a bit then go to lunch at 11.  Or grab a handful of nuts, suck it up for an hour to work out and then eat.  It’s not very efficient.  Any suggestions are welcome.

I promise!  Sometime this week I’ll find some recipes for oatmeal.  Maybe I’ll try out the egg with oatmeal.  It could be mind-blowing.

Food Prep – Lisa

I haven’t been home since Thursday morning.  I spent the weekend at my boyfriend’s.  Being home for the first time in 4 days always makes me want to cook.  So I decided to make my breakfast and lunch for part of the week. 

I decided to make the black beans and rice from the other week, except I’m using quinoa instead of rice.  I’ve had a box in the cupboard for forever (thankfully it lasts a long time) and thought that this would be the easiest thing to make with it at the last minute.  I have made stir fry with it before, but I wish I had this prep recipe then.

I also made overnight oatmeal.  Super easy, just throw everything in the crockpot, set on low and wake up to breakfast.  You have to use steel cut oats.  Steel cut oats are the best anyway, they keep you fuller longer.  Use rolled oats for baking or granola.  And since I can’t have any fruit until next week, I added almond meal, ground flax seed, and vanilla extract to it.  A little bit of protein, a bit of iron, and some flavor.

I think I saw some recipes with an egg on top of oatmeal too.  I’ll have to look those up to share.  I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

Anyway, everything is cooking.  I’ll let you know how it tastes in the mañana!

End of Week 4 – Lisa

Today is the end of week 4 of the No Sugar Challenge.  Sarah Wilson’s ebook has made it easy to follow this challenge.  I have slipped up a few times, so far this week I’ve had the willpower to say no to sweets.  I did have pizza, but I’m not counting that as too bad.  Especially since I really wanted an iced latte from Starbucks yesterday.  I was very very close to getting it, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Since I’ve been feeling so good with this challenge, I’ve thought about extending the absolutely no sugar weeks for one more week.  So instead of 3 it will be 4.  I can’t wait to incorporate fruit back into my diet though.  But I have one more week to think about it.

I have been having headaches, especially at work.  I think it’s because I’m not eating as much as I’m used to.  I don’t sit at my desk all day.  Before I relied a lot on being able to snack when I was hungry.  This is the first time since high school where I’ve gone hungry through part of the day.  I keep almonds and Kashi whole wheat crackers on hand when the hunger becomes unbearable.  But I know I need to really start meal planning and make a lunch that will get me through the day.

Overall, things are going great.  I’ve been running after work a few days a week for a while and I’ve gotten better at it.  Running outside is still a huge challenge because of asthma, but I’ve figured out that running intervals keeps everything in check.  I don’t normally need an inhaler, so my asthma isn’t a big deal, but it’s still scary to feel my chest tighten.

It’s been too cold this weekend to really swim, so I decided to do the Bikini Blaster Series by Blogilates.  Cassey Ho is so adorable.  She’s my hero.  I don’t understand how she musters up so much energy all the time in her videos.  Here is a link to her Bikini Blaster playlist.

Memorial Day Weekend – Lisa

I’ll be up front and honest.  I cheated this weekend.

I know, I know.

I had an iced coffee from Starbucks on Friday and Monday I had a strawberry and a little bit of angel food cake.  And then I decided I needed Banana Nut Cheerios for a snack, which was a huge mistake.  It hurt my stomach so bad.  I don’t know if it was the mix of that and the crabs we ate for dinner or what, but I was happy to sleep that off.

Anyway, Friday I spent time with friends.  My roommate from college was back in town, so we made dinner, drank some wine, pretended to workout, and went to see a movie.  My friend, Alexia, made these awesome spinach noodles with pesto, arugula, and prosciutto.  At first I didn’t want them because I didn’t want noodles again that week, but they were really delicious.  I sauteed some asparagus and we had bruschetta for an appetizer.

I’ve gotten pretty bad about working out on the weekend.  I did workout Monday evening, however, thanks to another friend.  I’ve been thinking about joining a pool close to home since it’s gotten so hot outside to run in the evening.  I’m not sure which I would like better.  Swimming is a whole other beast.

But I do want to talk a little bit about my cheating.  None of it really made sense.  I had a ton of choices for food, I just wanted these things at those times and I decided to eat them.  And that’s how a lot of people think.  I want it, so I’m going to eat it.  Not:  I want that, but how is it going to make me feel (mentally or physically).

I honestly hate the bloated, over-stuffed feeling after eating out.  So I don’t eat out as much anymore.  And if I do, I pick something that’s not going to fill me up all the way.  And I especially hate the guilt.  I wonder:  When is that going to make it’s way to my thighs.  I remind myself:  NEVER.  Because I’m not going to give it the chance.  If I want to treat myself, I will, but I have to balance any indulgences with the proper exercise.  And sometimes that’s just taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  You don’t have to spend 2 hours on the treadmill.  Give yourself a break.

Emily’s Week

I’ve been having a weird week, both with food and exercise.

For whatever reason, I haven’t had much of an appetite. Pretty much every day this week I’ve had the same thing for breakfast and lunch:

Breakfast: organic oatmeal with pure maple syrup and some watermelon (yay summer!)

Lunch: Triscuits (only like 2 ingredients for all of you clean eaters out there), white cheddar cheese cubes, and a handful of grapes (the big ones with seeds).

That’s it. No snacks or anything. My dinner throughout the week has been varied. On Monday my husband made chicken breasts stuffed with provolone and broccoli with mashed potatoes that also had broccoli in it (I don’t know where he found that mashed potato recipe but broccoli in mashed potatoes is pure genius).

Tuesday’s dinner was courtesy of my husband once again (I swear I know how to cook). Delicious cheeseburger soup from his Betty Crocker cookbook. He modifies the recipe so that it’s clean but not many modifications are required and of course the ground beef he uses comes from Chesapeake’s Bounty so we know it’s not full of pink slime!

Wednesday we just had leftovers and yesterday I wasn’t even hungry until 7:00 and I just made myself a grilled cheese. I consider myself a pretty big grilled cheese enthusiast and usually I like to experiment with fun combinations but I wasn’t up for that last night so I just had 2 pieces of whole grain bread, with olive oil spread on one side of each and then a mixture of Italian herbs spread on the olive oil. My cheese of choice last night was mozzarella.

My typical workout schedule involves 2-3.1 miles of running on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and then various workouts at the gym that focus on different parts of the body.  HOWEVER…I did the Warrior Dash on Saturday, and my precious Brooks Ghost 3’s were sacrificed to the charity shoe pile. Never in my life have I wanted to go for a run so bad when I can’t (those were the only pair of shoes I have).

Happily though, I will be going to Charm City Run in Annapolis today with my Mom to get new running shoes! Yay! That always gets me pumped up to run, and I need to be pumped if I’m going to be doing this 10k at the end of the summer!

Strength/Cardio Workout – Lisa

So, I promised to upload my workout from yesterday.   I got this one from a trainer at the gym.  For me, it’s pretty difficult.  My arms are killing me this morning.

Warm-UP Complete some form of aerobic movement prior to exercise, i.e. treadmill, archtrainer, etc.
A1 Inverted Row n/a 4 x 8 Use smith machine, pull body towards bar, underhanded, adjust height for different difficulty levels.
A2 Scaption Raise Blue RB or 5 lbs 3 x 10 Lift using weights or resistance band forming V with arms
B1 Push-up n/a 3 x 10 Use smith machine, lower mid-chest down to bar and return to start.  Engage glutes to keep body lined up
B2 Front Squat 18+ lbs bodybar 3 x 12 Focus on form, bend at hips and use bench to ensure full range of motion.  Hold body bar under chin hands on your shoulders
B3 Ankle Mobility n/a 3 x 8/side
C1 Side Plank Abduction n/a 2 x 8/side Get into side plank, drive hips forward to ensure optimal alignment, lift top leg and keep controlled
C2 Single-leg Bridge n/a 2 x 10/side Pull one knee tight to chest.  Lift hips off ground using glutes only.
D1 Kneeling Heel to Butt Stretch n/a 2 x :20/side Same as hip flexor mob, just hold
D2 Lat Stretch n/a 2 x :20/side Grab onto object and let self fall backwards feeling slight pull in back

In case you’re wondering, this is what a Smith Machine looks like:
Smith Machine

This doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re lifting your own body weight you get tired pretty quick.  At least, I get tired pretty quick.

You should do this workout two or three times through.  I workout on my lunch break mostly, so I only have enough time to go through it twice.  I’m pretty slow when I workout.

Don’t forget to stretch before!  I’m notorious for just jumping into things without a good stretch.  If anyone knows any good hamstring stretches please let me know!

First Signs of Success – Lisa

I’ve lost 4 pounds!

As easy as it sounds to lose 4 pounds, you don’t know how hard it is until you try to lose those few pounds and keep them off.  One of my biggest fears is to put back on the weight after this challenge. 

It’s week 3.  I’ve had zero sugar.  It’s difficult, but since the program allows you to ease into it, it wasn’t as big of a shock as it was in the first week.  Just keep with it.  Every little bit counts.  And just because you indulge one day that doesn’t mean that you have to ruin the whole thing.  You just had a little slip up.  You’ll catch yourself next time.

Tomorrow I will post the workout that I did today.

This is why I love Friday’s off – Lisa

This post was meant for Friday.  I gave up trying to post pictures because my internet was giving me a hard time.  Then the rest of the weekend got super busy with the newest addition of our family being born!  I have another niece and she is absolutely precious.  It’s weird to think that we’re starting all over again with another baby in the family.  It’s been almost 3 years since we’ve had a new one!

Anyway… the beginning of this was written on Friday and the rest on Monday.

When I woke up a little after 9 this morning I wasn’t hungry.  That was surprising, but since I was at my boyfriend’s house I decided not to eat before I left for home.

This is what I envision for my days off:  going to the grocery store and a lot of cooking and trying new things.  I can’t wait for dinner tonight.  We’re having ribs on the Big Green Egg (they’re expensive but worth the money, food tastes so much better off of it) and I picked up fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market earlier this week.

I made for lunch black beans and rice.

black beans and rice

It’s incredibly easy to make.  I use my dutch oven because I can saute the veggies in it first and the lid is really tight.

Black Beans and Rice

olive oil
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (I didn’t have this)
small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can black beans (don’t drain)
15 oz can diced tomatoes with zesty peppers or jalapenos
1 1/2 cups water
cumin
1 bay leaf
Oregano
cilantro
salt and pepper

Heat oil on medium.  Add onions, peppers, and garlic and saute until soft.  Add rice, beans, tomatoes, cumin, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper.  Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice absorbs most of the water and just barely skims the top of the rice (I’m sometimes too hasty with this step and everything turns out fine if you just put the top on and let it go).  Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.  My stove isn’t that great and it takes about 30 minutes for the rice to steam.  After the 20-30 minutes are done, leave the cover on for another 5 minutes.

I love to use the leftovers for breakfast.  I heat it up in a skillet with some eggs.  It’s really delicious.

And I decided to give myself one last treat this weekend, since it’s now the 3rd week of the No Sugar Challenge and I’m eating ZERO sugar.  Okay, so some of the foods I’ve eaten have a little bit of sugar in them.  Like 1 gram.  I’m not counting that, but I’m not letting that add up either.

My treat:  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus Dip Horrible name.  Let’s call it:  Faux Cookie Dough

Faux Cookie Dough

2 cups chickpeas (from can, rinsed and peeled)
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbl maple syrup (it calls for 1/4 cup and 2 tbl but that’s too sweet for me)
1/2 tbl vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Put everything but the chocolate chips in a food processor (a blender might work too, the ingredients aren’t too dry).  Process until smooth (or chunky if that’s your thing) and fold in the chocolate chips.  Easy!  You can eat them with apples, or with those graham cracker Scooby snacks.  I prefer the Scooby Snacks.

So far I’ve had great success with this No Sugar Challenge.  It’s been rough.  The first couple of days, Emily and I were talking like addicts.  We couldn’t stop thinking about sweets.  Now it doesn’t seem like such a big deal.  I can easily say “no.”  And I’ve lost a few pounds!

Later this week I’ll post a workout routine.  So far I’ve been doing a lot of cardio.  I’m ready to mix it up with some weight lifting.