Insiders Guide to Oaxaca

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I am often asked about my favorite places in the world, and often a conversation occurs where it doesn't cross my mind to mention my beloved Mexico; the motherland, my parents home country. Although my parents home state is vastly different, the culture and food, the people and varied landscapes remain the same and make it a favored destination of mine year after year. Yet of all the spots I claim to conocer oh so well, Oaxaca. However, a place I have only made a small dent of all the thrills and frills of this amazingly vibrant, colonial city with rich indigenous roots.

There is no doubt that Oaxaca will always hold a near a dear place to heart. It's the significance of a closing chapter in my life, yet welcoming new horizon. This charming town with Mexican hospitality and endless Corazon is also the heart of Mexican cuisine.

After falling in love with its storied and cobbled streets as a tourist, the vibrant culture, colors, sounds, tastes, and the amazingly hospitable climate. It’s a place with bustling marketplaces, lively fiestas, and beautiful folk art traditions and fascinating history. It is time to teeter into the unknown, this way by way of Oaxaca. Ready to discover some of the hidden gems that only locals know?

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DORMIR [to sleep]

Casa Oaxaca is the charming little hotel with a quirky heart-shaped pool, stands on its own two feet, with its mixture of colonial architecture with modern touches. Be sure to eat at the restaurant here, it’s been touted as one of the best. Taking up residence in this architecturally stunning and historically fascinating 19th century Oaxacan mansion is Casa de Sierra Azul. This is also a place my group stayed, and enjoyed the 17 high-ceilinged rooms to choose from, each one decorated in a classy yet simple style, with colorful accents. Casa de las Bugambilias is just one of three guest houses that they run in Oaxaca and is well located only one block from the famed Santa Domingo temple. It's personal touches and traditional Mexican artesanías within each of the 8 rooms.

COMER [to eat]

When it comes to food and drink, Oaxaca will not disappoint because this is one of Mexico's best foodie destinations, and many of the regional dishes date back to pre-Hispanic times. Its culinary offerings include a wide variety of corn-based dishes, and the local gastronomy also makes good use of the vast array of chiles grown in the state. Mole sauces are a specialty; you'll hear about seven different moles, but there are in fact more. Oaxaca is a significant mezcal producing center, and tasting the endless varieties is a favorite pastime.

Don’t miss out on the street food in Oaxaca. You’ll find many street foods stands throughout the city. Forget about gourmet restaurants: these stands are where some of the city’s best food is served, and the friendly banter of your dining companions will be hard to beat. From Elotes y Esquites (Mexican Street Corn) to Chapulines to fresh mango with chili, there’s plenty to pick from.

Origen Oaxacan herbs and chiles, ceviches and risottos converge on the menu of Origen, the restaurant of Top Chef Mexico winner, Castellanos Reyes. The creation of their dishes is based on tradition; it is enough to try the unforgettable language in Mole Chichilo to realize the office of the cradle of chef Castellanos.

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Come for the fantastic breakfast 
in the leafy garden, stay for a conversation with Alejandro Ruiz, the amiable chef. of Casa Oaxaca Café. The sprawling food market of Central de Abastos Mercado is an excellent place for lunch, with dozens of vendors preparing meals on the spot. Between Juárez Maza and Calle de Victoria. Enrique Olvera’s new restaurant, 
Criollo, serves creative spin on classic Oaxacan dishes in a modern space with an outdoor dining room.
 Run by the talented Chef Pilar Cabrera, Restaurant la Olla is an unpretentious restaurant offering Oaxacan specialties. Head to the upper-level dining room, which is more spacious than the ground floor, with artwork by local artists. The moles are delicious, but to start, order the squash blossom soup.

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Los Danzantes has three restaurants scattered across Southern Mexico, but the one in Oaxaca is locally considered to be outstanding with equally impressive cocktails. Get out of the city and pay a visit to the distillery as well. For 
 education in Oaxaca’s signature spirit, book 
a tasting at this bar/classroom in the city center for Mezcaloteca. There 
are nearly 100 varieties on 
offer.. 
Graciela Ángeles Carreño’s distillery is a farm-to-glass operation at Mezcal Real Minero. Tour the agave crops before settling into the tasting room.

Mexico is perhaps not the most well-known coffee producing country, but in Veracruz, Chiapas and Guerrero in particular, there are quality beans being produced. However, what about colonial Oaxaca? Your coffee options are not limited in this historic, quaint and vibrant city. El Volador, Cofetarika, and Alma de Café are worth checking out.

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HACER [to do]

Wander through the Historic Center of Zócalo. Oaxaca City was built for the wanderer; winding streets take you high up above the center with views over the Oaxacan skyline, and cobbled paths lead you to cafés you wouldn’t ordinarily have found in a million years. The multi-colored façades of many of Oaxaca City’s houses and edifices only add to this charming town. You’d be hard-pressed to visit Oaxaca and not stop by the Museo de las Culturas at least once, given that it’s located next to the famed Templo de Santo Domingo in the 17th century converted monastery. Even if you’re not big on museums, this one does have some cool exhibits you should check it out for the location alone. The large open windows frame the surrounding Ethnobotanical Garden, creating some literally picture perfect views.

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Explore the art galleries throughout Oaxaca is a must. While Mexico City takes the title for the most museums, Oaxaca is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to art galleries. From smaller independent ones that you can dip in and out of as you wander the cobbled, winding streets of the city to the larger more famous ones that display pieces from renowned artists, the art scene in Oaxaca is absolutely one of the things you must see. Visit the mezcal distilleries. The spiky agave plants whose piñas (hearts) harvested to roast, mash and ferment, it became clear why this is one of the most excellent mezcal you’ll taste.
 Chef Pilar Cabrera of Restaurant la Olla, also offers cooking classes through Casa de los Sabores. For more fun experiences, check out Airbnb Experiences, where you’ll find unique cooking classes, tours, gallery walks and so much more.



Strawberry Field Chia Pudding with Marine Collagen

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Let's be real, we all want to look and feel younger and have youthful skin, indefinitely. A while back, I had contacted my Naturopath to learn more how to get a better glow to my skin, and help with the aging process and found out that the answer: Collagen + Vitamin C.

I’ve talked before about collagen being part of my daily wellness routine and how to sneak more of it into your diet. But here’s the quick rundown. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein and an essential building block for the body, especially for healthy skin, hair, and nails, making up approximately 30% of our bodies’ protein. Think of it as an amino acid chain that strengthens the body, especially our skin, bones, joints, and muscles.

Unfortunately, collagen diminishes with age and is likely impacted by today’s diet and environmental influences. That’s why I’m such a proponent of supplementing with collagen peptides, which are a bioavailable form of collagen. And when it's combined with vitamin C, it helps reverses the harmful effects of UV exposure on the skin by neutralizing free radicals.

Interestingly though, vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen. Taking a collagen supplement, without vitamin C, won't have the same impact. So I searched for the best collagen on the market and have been a fan-girl of Nordic Naturals Marine Collagen.. especially this strawberry flavor!

You’ll love that it is non-GMO-certified—no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. It’s also made from 4200mg bioactive collagen peptides from sustainable, wild-caught Arctic cod. The best part is that it's blended with natural vitamin C to aid our body’s normal formation and provide antioxidant support.

Aside from the Nordic Naturals Marine Collagen Strawberry flavor being a great addition to smoothies, chia puddings, and warm nut milks, it's a company you can stand behind proudly! For 23 years, they've sourced fish from the cleanest waters to create a fantastic line of marine-based supplements.

I always find it a bit difficult to find a collagen that doesn’t have an fishy or animal aftertaste to it, until I discovered Nordic Naturals! It is virtually flavorless, with the exception of the light, and refreshing strawberry scent and taste. They recommend mixing in 2 teaspoons of marine collagen powder with 5 oz. warm or cold liquids once daily.

One of the ways I've been enjoying this refreshing and nourishing Nordic Naturals Marine Collagen is with this Strawberry Fields Chia Pudding. All of the ingredients are good-for-your-skin! The fresh strawberries and goji berries help boost the already natural strawberry flavor of the marine collagen, and satisfies all your sweet cravings all with a health boost of collagen peptides. With just 8 simple ingredients you’re sure to make this healthy breakfast or treat again and again as part of your wellness routine.

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Strawberry Field Chia Pudding with Marine Collagen

Recipe makes 1-2 servings.


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What You'll Need

3 tbsp chia seeds

8 oz cashew milk

2 medium strawberries

1 tbsp goji berries

1 tbsp coconut flakes

2-3 drop stevia (or 1 tbsp honey)

1 tbsp Nordic Naturals Marine Collagen (Strawberry)

1 tbsp hemp seeds

What You'll Need

In a high-speed blender, add in 8 oz cashew milk, 2 medium strawberries, 1 tbsp goji berries, 2-3 drop stevia (or 1 tbsp honey), 1 tbsp Nordic Naturals Marine Collagen (Strawberry). Blend for about 60-90 seconds.

In a mason jar, add in chia seeds, hemp seeds, and coconut flakes. Pour mixture, stir and let it sit for about 2 hours.

Optional: Top with bee pollen, coconut flakes, and a sliced strawberry.







Thank you to Nordic Naturals for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad

Kalen' it with this Chopped salad.

Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad - Low Carb, Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipes - www.letsregale.com

Sheets of hand-torn pasta woven through luscious bolognese and the perfection of a scoop of nutella gelato dripping down your chin as you sit on the Spanish Steps contemplating runaway to this moment. This is my Italy.

I've been lucky enough to have travelled quite a bit. And yet, I know that it is barely scratching the surface. The yearning and the itch to travel, got me searching for flights, daydreaming of frolicking the cobblestone streets of some charming Italian town. Then it got me thinking about a salad I once enjoyed in the Tuscan countryside. This Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad is an ode to it.

Italian cooking is all about using the best, freshest and local ingredients. The blend of that philosophy, ingredients sourced locally here in the Pacific Northwest and the basil vinaigrette tie it all together.

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Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad

Makes 2 servings

What You’ll Need

Salad

4-5 Tuscan kale leaves, washed and chopped

1 Medium Zucchini, spiralized

1 cup Brussel sprouts, sliced and steamed

1/4 cup kalamata olives

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (I used this brand - Skout Backcountry)

1/2 cup italian salami (I used Olympia Provisions Cacciatore)

1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Basil Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

3 garlic clove

1/2 shallot

6 large basil leaves, very finely diced

Freshly ground salt and black pepper, to taste

Tools

Spiralizer

What You’ll Need To Know

Basil Lemon Vinaigrette

Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend for 15 seconds bowl and add to a mason jar or air tight container If using a mason jar, you can simply put the lid on and shake the jar until well combined.

This dressing will stay good in an airtight container or mason jar for up to 1 week.

Salad

Steam brussel sprouts.

Spiralize zucchini with a spiralizer into noodles and slice into 3” and add to a bowl along with the rest of the salad ingredients.

Add in 4 tbsp of the Basil Lemon Vinaigrette and toss together.

Plate, garnish with Parmigiano Reggiano and enjoy!