Helsinki: the Food! A Lesson in Healthy Balance

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Mmm Saturday.  Mine started with a nice long sleep, delicious fruit bowl for breakfast, coffee and blog reading.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that!

Anyway, while the majority of the blog world is off at Blend Retreat in Colorado, I’m stuck here in Sweden doing work, hanging out, and enjoying the spring weather.  Not that I’m particularly complaining!  One day, I will go to one of these blogging retreats/conferences – they look like so much fun!

But of course that’s not the point of this post – but what who would I be if I didn’t start almost every post with my random ramblings? Ha. Anyway, back to the food.  In Helsinki.  The food on this part of my little vacation was not nearly as fantastic as the days before in Stockholm – but was still quite tasty.  More importantly, this was the first time in a while where I can say I was truly proud of myself for not going overboard with the eating on vacation – and I fully enjoyed all of my food, without restriction!

So here’s the detailed story.

Starting with the boat.  We decided to get the buffet meals on the cruise (breakfast and dinner) as the less expensive option.  The food was good, but not fantastic.  Still, it was a really good exercise for me on not going overboard at a buffet.

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plate #1 – mostly veggies.  I planned it so I would fill up on veg, taste a few things, then go back to taste a few more things.  On the plate we’ve got a shot of gazpacho, dolma, rye toast with salmon mousse, little sushi, egg, gravlax (cured salmon), spanish salmon, salad and veg, plus one little filled boiled potato.  Of note – everything salmon (especially the toast with mousse) and the dolma.

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plate #2 – didn’t finish it all.  Took only a few bites of the fried spring roll (not worth it), ate the seaweed salad, another mini salmon mousse toast (fave!), herbed root veggies, some barley/lentil dish (didn’t finish) and two kinds of potatoes.  I did eat more than I usually do at dinner, but I did not leave the table feeling overly stuff and guilty.

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And, dessert!  Little tastes of everything – 4 kinds of mousse cake, lemon merengue cookie (didn’t finish), mini doughnut and chocolate mint bites.  I also grabbed a chocolate on the way out.

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breakfast!  Didn’t eat the bread here, wasn’t that great.  Went back for some (unpictured) fruit and yogurt as well, and coffee with soy milk.

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Now we’re off the boat and in Helsinki – lunch!  We stopped at a café, where I got a giant salad with iceberg lettuce (boo, not a big fan, but that’s what the had for salads), tomatoes and cucumbers (not enough cukes!) plus two toppings – artichokes and salmon salad.  That salmon salad was amazing! And yep, I was hungry enough to finish the bowl, again without feeling stuffed.

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Mom and dad both got the salmon soup (which I tasted) – it was amazing!  This dish was everywhere in Helsinki!

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And we shared a giant licorice meringue for dessert.  Again, I was proud of myself – I didn’t even finish my allotted portion, I was satisfied with a few bites and left it at that.

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Dinner, at a traditional Finnish restaurant called Seahorse!  Started with some cocktails.

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And a lovely salad!  I needed more fresh veg in my life.  You can’t really see from this shot, but there’s an orange slice on the salad, and it was quite a delicious orange slice.

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Dinner! The food there was traditional, very eastern European – lots of heavy meats, creamy sauces, potatoes, etc.  I was excited where I saw a veggie section on the menu!  I really do enjoy mostly vegetarian food.  I got the veggie cabbage rolls (traditionally stuffed with meat) with rice and mushrooms.  Served with roasted veg (can’t really see it), a potato pancake underneath, a yogurt sauce with mushrooms and onions, and lingonberry jam.  I finished everything except the potato pancake (which was really good as well, but I was full – so I stopped myself!)

Everything at this restaurant was deceiving-ly plain-looking!  None of the dishes really looked like anything special, but they were all out-of-this-world delicious.  I think this was our best meal in Finland.

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And dessert was no less amazing – frozen cranberries with hot caramel sauce.  I must replicate this some time!

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Next day – amazing breakfast buffet at the hotel!  They had mostly organic foods out (yay!), and this picture (from instagram) does not do it justice.  Bowl of fruit with a bit of cereal and granola on top with yogurt, a bite of salmon and cucumber, and I also went back for a hard-boiled egg and a bit more fruit.  And coffee of course.

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Mid-morning snack and Suomenlinna!  Mom wanted an ice cream, and I had told her about the odd flavors (licorice) they have.  So when I pointed out this ice cream bar, the decision was made.  Yes, that is a salted licorice ice cream bar.  Real wholesome food? not exactly. Do I care? Not at all.  I only had a few bites, (didn’t want to spoil my appetite for lunch) but it was amazing.

And the highlight of mom’s culinary experience on the trip.  It was that good.

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Strawberry season!  We grabbed a little box for an appetizer at the market.  Then moved onto lunch in the market hall.

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We went to a sushi bar there what was written up in a number of travel guides.  Plus, seafood was consistently good there, so sushi would be no exception.  And indeed, it did not disappoint.

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Our spread, plus another (unpictured) grilled sea bass nigiri – which I think was the best thing there.  Before this, I hadn’t had sushi since I was home in January!!

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Dinner, at another recommended restaurant.  However, they had a limited menu, since it was a holiday evening.  Which made me a little less than happy, as there wasn’t really much of anything on the menu that caught my eye.  But they did give us this little complimentary starter – some kind of sorbet with fried dough, in a shot-glass sized cup.  Tasty!

We also got this amazing house made honey wheat bread.  Holy yum.

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Starter, and the best part of the meal.  Salmon tartar, served with pickled radish, mini toast, and a mustard crème.

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For dinner – salmon with cucumber dill risotto.  The salmon wasn’t anything special, but the risotto was really good.  I’m actually not sure what that sauce was, but something in this dish did not sit well in my stomach.  I was still hungry after the meal, but did not feel like eating anything.  My guess is the cream/milk in the risotto and sauce.  Win some, lose some – it was still pretty good.

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Our flight left at 8.30 the next day, which meant leaving the hotel at 6.30.  And, as amazing as the hotel was, they set out breakfast pates for us since we were missing the fabulous buffet!  I ate the fruit, croissant, veggies from inside the sandwich, and the cookie.  Can’t say I was super hungry at 6am.   I did grab a few more pieces of fruit at the airport, and ate some trail mix later (that I took from the breakfast buffet the day before!)

Like I said, I did a really good job overall of not going overboard.  I did notice one thing, though – it was easier to stay in control when I was with people (parents in this case), and sharing food.  This is a big one – I really hate wasting food, which tends to lead me to eat when I don’t want to.  I need to learn that it’s okay to not clean your plate if you are not hungry anymore.  But, being able to share with people definitely helps.

How do you eat on vacations?  Over indulge?  

Do you care about leaving food on your plate?  Would you overeat just so you don’t waste food?

Do you like to share food when you eat out?

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One thought on “Helsinki: the Food! A Lesson in Healthy Balance

  1. Hannah@mindrunningwild

    Ahh!! I’ve been so absent because it is exam season but I’m so proud of you!! I struggle with the same thing, feeling like I have to finish things and not acknowleding when I’m full. Usually I just load up on veg and clean my plate, but I’m learning to experiment in eating what I truly want and stopping when I’m full. It is really difficult to balance that with not wanting to waste food- I hear ya! I never overindulge, but I could always stop earlier than I do. I like to share food when I’m out (eating out still scares me…) so I can try more than one thing. I like buffets for that reason.
    Hannah@mindrunningwild recently posted..I can’t stay awayMy Profile


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