By Jesse Atkinson, Owner of Ensenada Massage and Ensenada Excursions
Your body needs great nutrition to enjoy your Baja travel, and getting access to specific healthy foods in Baja is sometimes challenging. While recovering from cancer, I rebuilt a lifestyle around healthy food in Baja. Here are a few that may help you find your healthy food groove in Baja.
Local Healthy Foods to Consider Eating:
Cold jamaica or hibiscus tea is often available in street side stands as agua del día with a bit of sugar added. And the dried flower is cheaply available in small markets for home preparation. Hot or cold, you should know that jamaica is a superfood, offering the highest antioxidant content of any tea. It is worth building into your daily routine.
Nopales are a delicious and interesting food locally available. These green cactus leaves are available with the spikes removed for home cooking and in most breakfast joints with eggs. By themselves in a cold salad, they tend to be slimy—which ads variety—and can easily be cooked cut up or whole leaf with huevos.
Brown beans are universally available, and with salsa the flavors are endless. You can always ask for beans on the side or beans on your taco. Although it is not the typical image of taco, beans on a taco are quite tasty and filling. Nearly every taco stand has them, but they are often hidden in a pot off to the side, and not automatically added. Just ask for beans on top, or in a vaso. Beans are often served in a cup or cone when bowls are around.
Seafood can be amazingly fresh and cost effective in Baja. Keep in mind that since refrigeration practices are different and fresh fish may have been on ice for hours/a day or two, I have found cooking it the same day is best. In terms of fish quality, I have heard whispers of locally caught fish with high levels of contaminants that may not pass some developed market standards, but I’ve never seen reports. In general, there are large aquaculture businesses here and I trust the waters enough to eat fish. Ceviche tostadas and mariscos ‘Especial’ are some of my favorites from the street stands here in Ensenada.
Dates off the date palm are always a sweet tasty treat. The local variety tends to be tougher than the package product.
Sanitation/Water: If you are worried about sanitation and such, keep in mind that the overwhelming amount of food sickness comes from meat and dairy sources no matter what country you may be in. You may want to avoid those food groups during your travels to new areas.
Travelers often are worried about the water quality in Baja. My experience is that the tap water is certainly not dangerous, but has poor quality taste. Any upset stomach or digestion resulting is usually because your gut microbiome has never been exposed to the bacteria and such in the water here. Of course, Mexican nationals don’t regularly drink tap water either.
Dry and Fresh Food: Bring it or Buy Locally?
If you are down for just a long weekend to a week, you can stock your RV with your regular dry foods before coming down, or stop by Costco Ensenada conveniently. Alternatively, you can spend time asking locals wherever you spend time, attempting to find local places to source what you need.
For fresh food, Mexican immigration asks you not to bring in fresh fruits and veggies roughly the same ones you can’t take into the U.S. Although I haven’t seen this enforced often, avoiding stress at the border is muy bueno. So getting fresh food locally is your best bet.
Sourcing fresh, local organic is tricky to implement and access here. Although the concept of organic is great, the reality here is a bit more that the food is biologic as my friend Freddie, owner at a vegetable store, explained to me. Locally growers often do not use chemicals, but can’t control what the neighbor uses and the wind blows over. This is likely the case with most roadside fruit stands selling what is in harvest—strawberries, watermelon, grapes, mango.
Keep in mind that over 50% of surface chemicals are removed with washing anyway. Packaged organic is sometimes available at premium prices. There are a few organic markets around, such as El Mogor in Valle de Guadalupe, and La Misión Fitness, however times and days fluctuate as is common during COVID in Baja.
My eating habits and ideas are formed in my cancer recovery and biased my research on plant-based diets. I have lived in Ensenada for 10 years, and recently got my first tiny RV. I blog about other stuff around Ensenada and my life on my spa blog. See you on the road or in the massage studio!
Ensenada Massage is the TripAdvisor #1 Spa in Ensenada with a team of 7 trained therapists offering services in Centro, Ensenada, and Mobile in Baja Norte. Packages for couples, groups, and families for relaxation, travel stress reduction, and pain relief. Discover Baja members are eligible for 16% discount.
3 thoughts on “Tips for Eating Healthy on the Road in Baja”
Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to the travelers in Baja. I have a restaurant, travel safety, and beaches recommendations on my spa blog too (ensenada-massage.com/blog). Cheers!
eating healthy needs to be address.
Glad you did.
here in S. Arizona, hopeing to get back this year when
and if they open the border.
maybe bump into you on the trail.
Yes, John. That would be great. I love to connect with travelers to swap life experiences, share healthy foods, and learn of new destinations!