For February, I set a goal to try at least two new things every week. Initially I had intended for my new experiences to be completely food and fitness related, but as I discussed last month, sometimes, life requires us to adapt. Nevertheless, I did well this month and not only exceeded my expectations, but I exceeded my goal each week.
The last four weeks I have been enjoying various new experiences in my life; new foods, new places, and new friends. Even old things felt new. This past year’s storms have changed the landscape and dynamic of these islands. Much is not what it was before. That’s not to say it’s better or worse, but I found myself experiencing old places in a completely new way.
When trying new things it is essential to keep an open mind. Fear of being mediocre held me back from promising opportunities and enjoyable experiences far too often in my youth. Wisdom has helped me realize that I don’t have to be the best I only have to try my best. For myself, the most rewarding part of this month has been the new relationships I have formed. These meetings may not have occurred had I not been exploring new experiences with an open mind.
Described below are all the NEW things I have been up to this past month that you should check out in 2018!
Rancho Latino Restaurant-Authentic Puerto Rican Cuisine
If you’ve never had Puerto Rican style cuisine it is worth a try. Admittedly, living in the Caribbean as a dietitian, I probably do not try as many “local foods” as I should. This month I wanted to make an effort to try more Caribbean inspired cooking.
My friends and I met for lunch at Rancho Latino located in the Vitraco Mall across from Pueblo near Havensight. I split the garlic shrimp and mofongo with a friend. Our shrimp was sautéed in a garlic butter sauce with bell peppers. Personally, I preferred the shrimp to the Mofongo. Mofongo is a starchy food consisting of fried plantains mashed with garlic, salt, and oil. Often other ingredients, such as corn, shredded pork, or okra, will be added.
The first batch came with pork. If you are vegetarian or do not eat certain types of protein, make sure to ask when ordering if the mofongo contains meat. My friend and I do not eat pork, but the server was able to provide us with a freshly made, vegetarian version. Still, I found it to be bland in flavor and texture. If you’ve grown up eating this dish, I can see how it would serve as comfort food. For me, I could probably do without it.
I’ve been hesitant to try crossfit for years hearing horror stories and reading articles about cross fit related injuries. As a dietitian some of the fad diets associated with the crossfit world have shied me away from the sport as well. However, this month was about trying something new, and let me tell, you, Rocklife Crossfit is apparently the place to hangout.
The trainers and owners were extremely welcoming and meticulous about teaching proper form. Convinced to give it my all, I was committed. I did every lift, held every plank. Then couldn’t move my arms for 4 days…. that said, it was a really fun experience. If you are a crossfitter, definitely check them out!
Down here we have a tendency to get caught in a cycle of doing the same things and going to the same places. This is especially true when it come to boating. Everyone always wants to go to St John or White Bay, which I’m not opposed to, but sometimes it’s nice to try something new out on the water.
My grandfather taught me to fish for blue gills and sunfish off a dock on the Ozarks when I was less than 5 years old. Since my grandfather passed away, I have only gone fishing once. This month I was fortunate enough to make some new friends who are fishermen. I tagged along one afternoon and we took their boat out to Vessup to fish for ballyhoo. Ballyhoo, a baitfish used for larger catches, are long, silver, and needle-shaped. They love shrimp and are easy to catch with a rod off the back of a boat.
If you don’t have easy access to fishing equipment, look for charter company that specializes in fishing or try asking the next time you book a boat for the day. Some companies will supply fishing supplies if you request before hand.
Bread and CAKES Bakery
This bakery lies along my usual path from the hospital to Fruit Bowl, where I often walk on my lunch break or after work. For over a year I have passed by and inhaled the amazing aromas coming from this shop. This month I decided to finally walk inside and try a cinnamon roll. I was not disappointed by the cost under two dollars, the fluffy texture, or the sweet flavor.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but don’t let that fool you. These pastries are the real deal. While it is always important to limit sweets, if you are going to indulge it better be worth it. I recommend checking them out for special occasions.
Boating to St John or Jost Van Dyke
These islands are nothing new, but they are not the same old rocks. If you haven’t been back since the storms, I recommend checking out some of our neighboring islands. St John and Jost van Dyke are progressing along back to their former glory.
I was lucky enough to be able to visit these places by private boat several times this month for the first time since the storms. Be prepared, while the boats have been cleared from the beaches, these coastlines have changed. Structures that were once there have vanished. Boarded windows and blue roofs can still be seen from the water as you approach.
That said, with power restored to most of the islands, these places are thriving! High Tide and DRINK are the first bars on the beach in Cruz Bay to re-open their doors. Simply a short walk away, several other commercial areas in Cruz Bay have resumed normal operations including Mongoose Junction.
Caneel Bay, virtually untouched since the storms, remains closed and looks like a ghost town from the water. I have not been fortunate enough to make it into Coral Bay, but have heard it is coming along, although somewhat slower than the west side of St John. I do know that Skinny Legs on the east end, my boyfriend’s favorite lunch spot, is open for business!
As you pull up to customs in Jost the mark of the storms can’t be ignored. Ever resilient Foxy’s continues to serve up cold drinks a short, unrecognizable walk from the dock. The party may have slowed down, but hasn’t stopped in White Bay. Hendo’s Hideaway is about the only former structure that survived the storms. Next door, Soggy Dollar has rebuilt and continues to serve the same famous Painkillers. Further down the beach a few other structures have begun popping up and serving beverages. In total the beach looks barren compared to its pre-Irma existence.
Nonetheless, the beauty in these places remains; the buildings may have changed but the water is still blue and the beaches white. I highly recommend making a trip over if you can to support our neighbors as we rise from the IrMaria ashes into a better Virgin Islands.
Magen’s Bay Nature Trail
Descending from high up Magen’s Bay Road down to the beach, this trail was a favorite spot of mine prior to the hurricanes. After hearing from a friend that the trail was open from the top, I decided to take my trusted sidekick, Dobby, along and check it out. Underbrush and fallen trees made the trail almost unrecognizable, but it was transversable.
Unfortunately right now, the trail is only accessible from the top and does not open onto the beach as before due to fallen trees. The trailhead can be difficult to locate behind a small circular gravel drive along the stretch of Magen’s bay Road from Mandahl to Hull Bay Roads. The best way to find the location is to have someone that can show you. Otherwise, you can find it on your own, just be prepared to turn around a few times and pull in some wrong driveways.
If you are looking for a place to hangout and enjoy great wine, delicious food and good company on a Saturday afternoon check out the wine tasting at The Italians. I hadn’t heard about The Italians until recently when a friend took me there. This wholesaler opens its doors to the public on Saturdays to taste wine shipped straight from Italy along with the best authentic products available for purchase on St Thomas. To top off the whole experience, the nicest Italian gentleman serves everything. If you consider yourself a foodie and live on island you need to check this place out for high Italian products, including pasta, olive oil, and cheeses.
While the Marriott Hotel is still closed for repairs, the timeshares at Frenchmen Cove have reopened along with the Night Kayak Tours. A group of my friends signed up for the 8:30pm tour on a full moon. I recommend doing this with a large group; this tour would be a great family activity. It cost $25 per person plus tip. I tipped $10.
LED lights lining plexi-glass bottoms illuminate the ocean under kayaks providing a unique view of marine life. Disappointingly we only saw one sea turtle during our outing, but we did observe uncountable large tarpon. Our guides, on paddleboards, maneuvered us along the coastline and entertained us with countless pirate jokes. At one point a mermaid emerged from the water startling us! One member of our group even mistook her for a tarpon which made for a great laugh.
I imagine the views along the tour have changed since the storms. Nonetheless, it was a fun activity with friends. The only downside was the night we went was a little chilly, but we made up for it my hanging out in the hot tub afterwards!
Art Uncorked in Tillet Gardens
Not exactly food or exercise related, this activity supports mental wellness and offers a sort of art therapy. A regular event before the hurricanes, Art uncorked had it’s second revival this month where I attended with a few girlfriends. Classes happen every Wednesday from 7-9pm. Sign up online before to reserve a space because there are a limited number of spots available for each class.
The great thing about this is you don’t have to be an artist by trade. These classes are for everyone to enjoy and express him- or herself. A great way to enjoy time with friends, each class focuses on a different project utilizing various mediums. The day I attended we used watercolors and India ink. Amy, the owner and teacher, is extremely helpful and willing to provide guidance to any lost soul. The price for a class was $40 and included wine.
Yoga is not necessarily a new thing for me, but this month I got to try this new studio in Tillet gardens, which offers a daily schedule of classes. Owned by the adorable and charismatic, Katie Mayeux, The Movement provides a positive and relaxing atmosphere.
New to Yoga? No Problem. These classes are aimed to all levels. Katie and her staff have a friendly and encouraging demeanor that will calm any nerves or reservations.
Stop by to escape from the stress of your day to day life and connect with your community. The Movement offers not only a great workout but a brilliantly inspirational experience! Check out their website for more information, schedules, class descriptions, and to sign up online!
The Farmer’s Market at Yacht Haven Grande
This market runs every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month and is a great way to support local farmers. Never visiting prior to the storms, I was informed the market is much smaller. However, the few vendors had a pretty good selection at decent prices. All the merchants we spoke to grew their products here on St Thomas. I bought some taro, calabash, and tomatoes. Besides produce, merchants were selling liquors, sauces, and flowers. Remember to bring your cash!
Self-Defense for Women
Martial arts have been on my bucket list for years. Something about having the knowledge that I could lay out anyone in a room seems empowering to me. I feel it’s important for a woman, or anyone, to know how to defend herself from anyone attempting to do her harm. Grateful to have amazing friends who train Jiu Jitsu, I attempted my first lesson in self-defense. Honestly, this is something I could get addicted to!
Coming from a dance background, running through drills felt like a tango. When I watched fighting matches before I simply saw men rolling around on top of each other. Now I understand Jiu Jitsu is an intricate dance to obtain the more dominate position over your opponent. The practice requires not just strength, but agility, intellect, speed, and endurance.
Designed as a style for smaller fighters to dominant larger opponents, this sport is perfect for women. These guys currently train at Platinum Fitness, and I am working with them to set up a female self-defense class. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like anymore information
Island RDN Nutrition Counseling at CariCare Family Health Services
Over six months in the making, I am happy to finally announce that I am open for business on St Thomas! I have partnered with CariCare Family Health Services in the Paragon Medical Building to provide nutrition counseling and education. Most insurance is accepted! For more information or to make an appointment call 340-776-8112 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: Saturday hours now offered at Synergy Wellness & Fitness Center on the East Side. Call 340-714-2348 or visit synergyvi.com for more information.
Don’t get stuck on a diet that doesn’t work! Living a healthy and happy lifestyle is about finding balance between eating to fuel our bodies and to uphold our traditions! I work with each patient individually to build better eating habits through one-on-one counseling, grocery store tours, home pantry raids, individualized meal plans, and more! Come see me to learn about living a diet free life!
Areas of Expertise include Diabetes, Weight Management, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Kidney Disease, Cancer, Celiac Disease, Food Allergies, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Sports Nutrition, High-Risk Pregnancy, and more!
Additional Services include consulting services, public speaking, group classes, and community events. Contact email@example.com for business inquiries.
Last but not least… for those of you following along, here are my goals for March…
While new experiences have enlightened my life, I’ve also been spending more money and time eating outside of my home. This month will be stressful starting a new business, so my goals are to focus on work and eat more at home.
To make this more specific… eat at home 5 nights per week and cook a balanced dinner at least 3 nights per week. By Balanced dinner I mean a full meal with starch, protein and vegetables. I have the tendency to get tired and avoid cooking in the evenings. This often turns dinner into a grilled cheese or PB&J.
Keep following along or make an appointment to come see me and learn how you can make sustainable lifestyle changes for a healthier you!