When staying in hostels and eating on the cheap it’s not always easy to eat healthy – especially as you spend so much of your time out exploring. If you are chilling out in Vancouver and can take your eyes off the beautiful scenery for a few moments here is a great way to combine some sightseeing with some healthy and cheap eating.
If you haven’t already read or heard about Granville island then you better get back to your guide-book and do some proper research – because this is one of the must visit places in Vancouver, Canada.
A little history for you: As Vancouver started to grow across the bay in what is now known as Gas Town – Granville Island was a small mill town. Over the next century many trades took up residence here as it stayed a predominantly industrial area despite the city popping up around it. During WWII it was the busiest part of the city with the factories turning out equipment at all hours of the day. But in the late 70s as the district had almost completely declined and become dilapidated a revival or a “gentrification” of the area was called for. Now the old industrial buildings hold everything from art studios, luxury yacht ship yards and the famous fresh food markets as well as a loads of great shops.
You can catch a water bus over from the city which costs about $7 or you can walk across the Granville Bridge which takes about 15 minutes and has spectacular views of the Burrard Bridge complete with jutting mountains and shinning city. Once there it is hard not to get side-tracked by the street performers that are monopolising the square – old fashioned sword swallowers are making a comeback though they compete for the crowd against some ethereal Canadian folk singers and teenage comedians.
Break away from the courageous people who make a spectacle of themselves for your entertainment and head into the giant food market. Just inside the doors you will probably stop and blink while taking a few deep breaths to steady yourself.
Your eyes have been assaulted by the amount of colour and your stomach has just been reminded by the wafting combination of smells that you could eat (even if you are full, being around so much amazing food will make you feel as though you “could” eat).
What to eat: You could visit the “food court” style area and try some of the amazing pre-made dishes such as Mexican (always my favourite), Chinese, salads and spectacular pizza. You could visit various delicatessen’s and other stalls to pull together an amazing picnic assortment of yummy. You could do some shopping for a delicious dinner that will treat your friends back at the hostel or the friend whose floor you have been crashing on for the last week. Finally, you can do what I did, and do all three options… I meant it when I said your body seems to make room for more food when you are there… my stomach turned into a Marry Poppins bag.
A cheese and wine picnic
GRANVILLE RED SALMON THAI CURRY: A recipe for winning friends at your hostel or buying off the friend who has lent you her floor. Feeds four… or more if you have stuffed yourselves at the markets and only want a small light dinner.
Equipment Required: All of the below are fairly easy to come by or you can improvise with what you do have
- A stove top
- Large frying pan or wide saucepan – a wok will also do if you are improvising
- A knife
- Chopping board
- A smaller saucepan (for cooking rice)
- A colander (if you don’t have one, use a lid or plate to help you drain out the excess water – just remember to wrap your hand in a tea towel or your sleeves first to avoid steam burns)
Ingredients: Total cost: With Wild Salmon $36 or $9 if you split the cost in four. With Chicken $22 or $5.5 if you split the cost in four.
- Salmon: $20 (Because I was in Canada I really wanted to make a dish with Wild Salmon as I have only ever eaten farmed salmon, I definitely have to say that there is a huge difference in taste and colour as well as the obvious environmental impact. This was a huge expense that I would have avoided if I hadn’t been saving money by crashing at a friend’s place. So the cheaper version is to do everything the same but with chicken which you can still buy at the market for $6 for two large breasts.)
- Variety of Vegetables: $9.25 (this is really up to your taste buds and what’s in season. The only required vegetable is a brown onion, for the rest I pick about 6 different vegetables that are colourful and crunchy such as asparagus, capsicum, zucchini, broccoli, celery and cheery tomato’s. I also wanted to get some bok-choy but it wasn’t the best quality so I gave it a miss in favour of other more ripe vegetables)
- Red Curry Paste and Coconut Milk: $3.75 (there is a great Asian spice market in the middle, they have everything at great prices)
- Brown Rice: I’m not sure how much this is as my friend had it in her pantry, but I don’t imagine its more that $3 (you can also tie the bag of rice up with a hair tie… or a rubber band if you are super fancy, and take it with you to the next hostel for another meal.)
Step One: Put the water for your rice onto boil
Step Two: I like everything to be prepared before I cook anything so I spend a chunk of time chopping things up before hand (this also allows for me to enjoy a glass of wine and some gossiping when the actual cooking process is in motion). Finely chop the onions and keep separate. Chop up all of your other vegetables, I like to cut them into different sizes and shapes so that there is a little more “fun” when eating, leave them together – if you have bok-choy cut off the leafy bits and move to one side. Chop up your salmon or chicken into chunks, not too small, you want them to be nice big meaty pieces.
Step Three: Once everything is prepared get your rice into the boiling water. When the rice is almost cooker – or you can wait until its fully cooked – you can start cooking. The dish doesn’t take very long to make that’s why I don’t start until the rice is ready so you don’t over cook the vegetable and have them turn mushy and floppy.
Step Four: Brown the onions in the large saucepan/frying pan/wok.
Step Five: Throw in the salmon or chicken. If you are using salmon, turn the pieces gently until they are all sealed but don’t over cook. If you are using chicken you will need a little longer as you will want to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through.
Step Six: Throw in your vegetables and toss everything together
Step Seven: Add in your curry paste – see packet for instructions in relation to amount. Because I like my curry strong and jam-packed full of flavour I always do more than the suggested amount, but if you aren’t big on the “curry” flavour you could do less. Ensure that all of the vegetables and the salmon are coated in the paste.
Step Eight: Add in the coconut milk slowly – stirring as you go. I would turn the heat down at this point so the milk gently simmers. Once again pour as much as you like, I like my Thai Curries really runny as I like to drink the sauce, however if you prefer a thicker constancy don’t add as much milk. Leave to simmer for about 2 minutes.
Step Nine: Serve on top of the brown rice and eat!
If this doesn’t make you the most popular person in the hostel then nothing will – you are beyond help. It is also a wonderful way to catch up with that great friend who put you up – especially if you also have some wine and a sunny balcony to relax on.