Best of Tamarindo: Health Foods That Make You Feel Good (and Where To Find Them)
There is no denying that Costa Rica is a country of unrivalled beauty, friendly people, a high standard of living, and a fascinating blend of local and foreign cultures, making it the jewel of Central America. This gorgeous country enjoys a high standard of health, drawing many people come here to reduce their daily stress, live in a clean environment, or benefit from the affordable, quality medical care. If you are ready for a change to a healthy diet, Costa Rica is the perfect place.
I’ll be very honest with you, living in Costa Rica at first was a bit of a challenge in adjusting to the day-to-day life. There is those comfort of home that I miss, like being able to drive to Whole Foods or Rainbow Grocery and pick up items like hemp seeds and chia seeds, protein powders, and kombucha. The fact of knowing where I can easily find items is a comfort I miss.
Luckily, Tamarindo’s flourishing international community made the hunt for superfoods and healthy finds easy - it just took some searching and getting acquainted.
The foods that fall into this exclusive category are those with the highest density or presence of nutrients. Just about every brightly colored fruit and vegetable fits the category of a superfood. So do nuts, beans, seeds and aromatic and brightly colored herbs and spices. The beneficial properties of each one of these superfoods could fill an entire book. Vegetables should ideally be organic, for even more benefit. (In Costa Rica, the food taste so much better.)
If you're a health nut like me, you’ll appreciate this post. I’ve been gathering a list of places where one can find superfoods and health products.
The Tamarindo Feria (Farmer’s Market) each Saturday morning, from 8am - 1pm, for fresh, organic veggies and fruits, superfoods like Moringa, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds, Spirulina, gluten-free baked goods, natural soaps, oils and lotions, and a fun hippie beach vibe. The produce stand, Huerta Organica, located towards the front carry leafy greens like Tuscan Kale, Curley Kale, Rainbow Swiss Chard, and Spinach. Arrive early, they tend to sell out, primarily by me! I'm joking. (I’m the girl with 6-7 bundles of kale each Saturday.) The Fruit Truck guy, Frutas Amistad, for juicy watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe and papaya. Pick-up handcrafted artisan cheeses at Cheese Collections and Rancho Avellanas. Both, Rancho Avellanas and Cheese Collection also sell greek yoghurt and cheese made from Goat's milk. Walk a few steps for cashew butter and almond butter at F&B Nut Butters. Feeling a bit granola? They also sell darn good bag of Tamarindo Granola - uber delicious, life changing granola. (Yea, it’s that good.)
Other fantastic finds are locally grown and dried, never heated, spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin from the Organic Spice stand. Fresh fish, caught in the waters of Costa Rica’s Pacific Ocean, is available at good prices. (Try a cup of a cool ceviche with hot sauce from the fish guy). Beach Chocolate for bean-to-bar dark chocolate what's packed with antioxidants.
A walk through this farmers market, you’ll quickly see that this market is just like any other American farmers market - minimal produce vendors and lots of handcrafted, artisan items, and delicious food. It reminds me a lot of home; much like the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco. One can find baked goods including breads, sweets and everything in between at a number of tables throughout the market. One them even offers gluten-free baked goods from Mandy's Candy. (Well, okay, cupcakes may not a superfood, but it's good to know for the gluten intolerant.)
Cafe Tico for unique blends of coffee. Also available is a good variety of natural pantry staples such as coffee, honey, nuts, and jams. La Bodega is known for their delicious organic, local sandwiches and salads. (More on the food in a later post.) But, they also sell local artisans products and superfoods, including Moringa, Chia Seeds, Coconut oil, Flor de Jamaica tea leaves, and Kombucha. If you’re looking for hemp seeds and raw almonds, Super 2001 next to Tico Cafe carries them. And, speaking of hemp seeds, you can also find them at ReFLEXion Yoga Tamarindo is as well as Navita SuperBlend and Trail Mix. Coco Spa Store is the go to for all natural, organic, health and wellness products. Located right next door to Coco Spa in downtown Tamarindo, this wellness shop recently opened; it’s the Whole Food’s whole body section of Tamarindo. You’ll find Sun Warrior proteins, Sun Is Shining Superblends, cacao, maca powder, spirulina, hemp seeds, chia seeds, Dehydrated Kale Chips and Broccoli, single origin dark chocolate, Tierra Linda Kombucha and so much more. Coco also carries an array of natural beauty and skin products, as well as, Fair Trade coffee and tea.
On Friday’s and Monday’s head to Villarreal for the Villarreal Feria (Farmers Market.) Getting there is a $5 cab ride ($10 round trip). Leaving Tamarindo, at the intersection in Villarreal take a right. It’s located next to the field in the center of town. Expect to find super cheap fruit and veggies. They don’t take credit cards though. Plan to bring some cash. $25-$30 should fill your fridge. (Friday's market has a larger selection than Monday.)
During the week keep an eye out for pop-up fruit stands. Any day, any time of year, in any location, you may find someone selling fruit. This is a priceless aspect of Costa Rican life: grab bags of seasonal fruit at low prices. These fruit stands are all over town. Parked near Super 2001, the Fruit Truck guy is there on Friday’s.
If you find the guy selling honey, buy some. Mr. Honey has a stand across from Carlos & Carlos. You will pay way more in the market, and it may be lesser quality. Usually, the honey guy is selling recycled rum bottles full for $8.00. Pick up fresh, extracted sugar cane juice from the Jugo de Caña truck. It may sound ridiculous at first, but the sugar cane juice is really good for you.The sugar cane juice is sugar in its basic form: raw. That sugar is naturally good for the body, as it contains nutrients and minerals. It is normally parked across the street from the Sno Shack. And, speaking of which... The Sno Shack offers made to order green smoothies for about 2000 colones for the large size. My favorite combination is spinach, kale, basil, pineapple and spirulina.
Worth mentioning is Automercado. The chain carries many dietary restricted items: gluten-free, dairy-free, and diabetic options. You will find most of it in the second to the last aisle before the cold beer. This isle also has chia seeds and raw nuts.
Did I miss any place? Let’s hear them in the comments below.
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