Leslie Cikra: Eating clean in Europe, it can be done.

After being back in the States, I realized how the baguette sandwiches for lunch and chocolate croissants for dinner (not really but kind of) were making me SO sluggish.  I got lazy with my previously-almost-paleo diet, and my body was feeling the consequences.  I choose convenience over healthy a lot more than I should have and it wasn’t til I was away from the bread and had access to a killer Nutri-bullet and my yoga classes again that I realized how much better I felt.  I decided that after my trip with my sister and visit from my friends from home that I was going to try out a 14 day YOUR TEA “tea-fox” and COMMIT to healthy and clean eating.

It is possible to eat clean in Europe!  It requires a little more creativity and time (but I have a lot of time during a normal week!).  We have access to better produce (less preservatives) here, yes, but less access to convenient healthy options for things like protein bars and prepped clean food, and pretty much everything at Whole Foods.  You have access to such awesome produce, even better if you have a local market.  And produce goes bad faster, so you HAVE to plan well.  But, with resources taken over by healthy foodies like Pinterest and Instagram, and personal blogs the options for meals are ENDLESS.  (I’ve even been making my own almond milk two times a week! – so yum!)

Two awesome places to start are A Dash of Meg and Stay Sharp Be Strong.  Whole Foods also has some awesome resources online.

Some things are still hard or impossible to find (like kale and quinoa – at least in France) but if you get creative you can substitute and make it work.  Alyssa and I ordered a big shipment of stuff from this website, for things like chia seeds, almond butter, coconut oil and spirulina.  They sell things in bulk and ship all over Europe, for decent prices.  I also started a bookmark list, separate from my pinterest (found here) for all the recipes I want to try before I go home.  They range from chia pudding, to overnight oats, to jalepeno chicken polenta pot pies.  YUM!  I’ve also been trying to incorporate things that are in season in my diet, right now that means pomegranates are on the way out and clementines, oranges and grapefruit are in.

I have been spending my Tuesday mornings at the weekly market and stocking up for the week.  It also gives me an opportunity to really embrace the city I live in.  And it’s amazing what a difference it makes when you focusing on eating more fresh and less packaged food.  My body is happy I’m fueling it with real food!

A few of my past weeks ideas:

Medjool dates with almond butter and cacao powder – thanks to @lolacooks instagramphoto 1

photo 2

1/2 greek yogurt and 1/2 chocolate pudding (made with bananas and avocado and dates) and chia seeds and raspberries – Hi feet!

photo 4

Attempting homemade roasted garlic hummus!  – a little chunkier than normal, but still yum!

Thanks to so much fun inspiration I’ve found, I have been having so much fun cooking and eating and thought it deserved it’s own quick post!

Also, on a volley note…We had a big win over Paris this past weekend, and had the quarter finals of the French Cup last night.  We had a chance to rematch Le Cannet, who we played a short 10 days ago and ended up upsetting them in 5! We we’re sooo stoked and are all looking forward to the draw for the final four teams!

Another big match on Saturday against Beziers, and another opportunity to seek revenge after a poor performance and loss to them in the first half of the season!


Leslie Cikra
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4 Responses to “Leslie Cikra: Eating clean in Europe, it can be done.”

  1. martha towns

    Well. aren’t you just the amazing food writer. I predict a future in nutrition for athletes for you which should lead to nutrition for everyone. Have you ever actually thought about studying nutrition. On the other hand, you are doing quite well without it.
    I am looking forward to eating some of your healthy food when we are together though we will surely be eating out also. I am going to try really hard not to eat chocolate croissants.
    Do you know anything about how to get an international phone?
    We’re on the road, or in the air, in less than two weeks!
    Big hug, Gramz

  2. lcikra11


    Thanks for the help! I think for me it’s mostly the convenience food and difficulty finding things like nut butters and chia seeds to add in on top of the produce. But, it definitely does force me to eat healthier for sure! Thanks for the tip about the stores and the link. I will definitely have to do some investigating as I haven’t had any luck with organic stores so far. I’m impressed you’ve tried to grow kale! I thought about it 🙂

  3. Betsy

    Hi Leslie- great article! I find it interesting that it’s harder for you to “eat clean” in France than back in the states. I also play volleyball in France (for over 7 years now) and I personally find it easier to “eat clean” (as a vegan) living in France, than in the US. The fact that most vegan convenience foods aren’t available, forces me to eat healthier, because I’m not tempted by vegan ice cream, baked goods, etc., and I don’t have any other choice 🙂 And like you said, the produce is great here (though I do miss kale- I’m trying to grow some on my balcony, but it’s not going so well).
    Have you tried the organic stores for things like chia seeds, nut butters, etc? I get that stuff here in Lyon at chain organic stores like L’Eau Vive, La Vie Claire, Botanic, Satoriz, etc. Maybe try this chain in the south: http://marcel-et-fils.com/. Also, if you have a blender, you can make nut butters pretty easily and it’s usually cheaper than buying them. I recently discovered this and have been making my own peanut butter, saving about 2 euros/jar (and without any gross additives)!
    Anyway, hope you kick some Beziers butt this weekend!


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