Insider Travel Tips
Wellness Guide to Baltimore
“Where health is the destination, wellness is the journey!” Another trip, and another chance to be well while traveling. Here’s my insider tips: wellness guide to Baltimore!
I love to travel. There is something so therapeutic about getting away, being somewhere new, and getting to experience a different way of living. But when I travel, I always do my research on where I can workout, great places to eat that will also be accommodating to my lifestyle, and a place to rest my head where I feel comfortable and well taken care of. As much as I love experiencing something new, I’m a creature of habit so these essentials help me feel like home no matter where I go!
This week, the travel bug brought me to Baltimore, MD for Expo East. It is an amazing (and sometimes overwhelming) event that brings together the food and wellness industry to meet and great with all of the top brands in the industry. Brands get to show-off new products, influencers get to meet and greet with the brands and each other, and everyone gets to sample all of the food…think never ending supply of nut butters!
I was excited to attend Expo East for the first time this year because it is an amazing opportunity to take the health and wellness community offline. I was looking forward to meeting the people behind the social media accounts for brands and influencers. Many of the friendships that I have cultivated this year are with people I’ve never even met! The power of Instagram has brought us together over shared interested and Expo East was the culminating moment when we got to hug and say “I know you!”
When I first told Ryan that I was sharing a hotel room with 2 people I’ve never even met, but talk to every single day, he thought I was crazy! But welcome to the new age. This isn’t your parents world anymore where we don’t talk to strangers, don’t take food from strangers, or get into cars with strangers. We’re living in the world of social media, sampling and uber!
Organizing a Wellness Trip
I knew ahead of time that the amount of food I’d be sampling at Expo East was going to be a lot! I mean you can’t say no to your favorite brands of nut butter, grain free tortilla chips, protein bars and chocolate. So I knew my mental and physical health would have to be a priority so I wouldn’t go insane. Even though walking the floor at Expo East, meeting new people and being social is a workout all on its own, I knew I wanted to plan a few great workouts, some clean eats to complement the snacking, and find a hotel that understood and promoted wellness. Lucky for me, the friends I was traveling with also had the same idea. And together, the 4 of us planned the ultimate wellness trip.
I met Dana (@eats2know), Kelly (@eatthegains) and Allie (@miss.allieskitchen) on Instagram this year. And by met, I mean we interacted on social media and chatted every day. But in actuality, we had never met (Dana and I had earlier this year, but the other 2 girls I met for the first time on this trip)! The four of us all have a passion for health and wellness that begins with food, but goes beyond that. We all love to workout, share our tips for meal prep and recipe development, and also try new things.
We started planning this trip 6 months ago because we knew we didn’t want to be rushed or stuck with some pretty unhealthy eats or lame workouts. It was pretty easy to find restaurants that understood our different (and many) dietary restrictions, workouts that we could all enjoy but also took us out of our comfort zone, and a hotel that provided exceptional service that made us feel comfortable in our home away from home while we traveled.
Organizing a trip is one thing, but making sure its wellness focused is an undertaking all on its own. It’s no longer about the city sights, but where you can get in a workout before the sun rises, where you can eat gluten-free, dairy-free, but not flavor-free, and where you can kick your feet up and still feel like you’re at home. The four of us got to work early planning ahead and doing our research for the best of all things wellness in Baltimore. Not only did we find fun places to workout and delicious places to eat, but all of the locations we visited were so accommodating, welcoming and accepting of us as travelers.
It’s one thing to go on a trip where you can schedule activities like hiking or walking around touring the city, but for this trip specifically, we knew that we would have to make time for our workouts. If we were going to eat all the nut butter, we were going to work our butts off to enjoy it!
One thing we looked for when finding places to workout were boutique gyms that had classes we were used to. It’s never fun walking into a gym not knowing what you’re doing. That meant a mix of cardio, HIIT and restoration. We also wanted to find inexpensive ways to work out and many gyms in big cities have new client specials for free classes.
You never want to be that boring person who doesn’t try local cuisine. But if you’ve got food allergies, or don’t want to come home feeling like you ate your weight in pastries and desserts, a little bit of research can go a long way. Use user review sites like Yelp and search specific key terms like Paleo to find all of the places that serve up anti-inflammatory meals. You can also stick to chains like Sweetgreen, Whole Foods, and Cava that can be found in most big cities. But don’t forget to try local restaurants, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the food you’re eating.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor
Choosing a hotel when you travel is very important. It’s basically your home for the next few days. You want to feel comfortable wherever you are. We chose the Kimpton Monaco because its mission aligned with our own, and that is to create meaningful experiences with the community. In order to feel our best the three days at Expo East, we knew we needed to get enough sleep. After all, sleep is the foundation for all things health and wellness. So the place where we rested our heads at night had to be incredible, but without breaking the bank!
One great tip for being healthy while traveling is to ask for a refrigerator in your hotel room. Having a refrigerator ensures that you will stay hydrated and can purchase some healthy snacks like fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, or fresh juice to sip on, which will keep you away from munching on those really expensive peanuts and chocolates, or gravitating towards the mini bar just because you’re thirsty. Not only will you be healthy, but you’ll also save a ton of money!
When choosing a hotel, make sure you know what kind of breakfast is served, after all it is the most important meal of the day. If it’s a breakfast buffet, stick to the fresh fruit and order poached eggs or hard boiled eggs to make sure there’s no added ingredients (have you heard of places adding pancake batter to scrambled eggs to thicken them up…that’s a big health and wellness no-no). And because you were smart and got that fridge in your room, you can load up on fresh food to bring back with you and have for later!
Other great features about the Kimpton Monaco: it’s pet friendly, complimentary coffee/tea in the lobby in the morning, yoga mats provided in every room, and free bike rental.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor
2 N Charles St,
Baltimore, MD 21201
This funky restaurant is located inside the American Visionary Art Museum and sources its food from local farms to bring the freshest foods to the table. The menu was filled with seasonal vegetables including freshly made juices, salads and open faced toasts.
Encantada is extremely bright, airy and so unique in its fun decor. You don’t feel like you’re inside a museum, but do feel like you’re eating in a work of art.
We came for lunch after arriving in Baltimore and were excited to enjoy a fresh meal. There were plenty of options for vegans, vegetarians and those following a gluten-free diet. We started our meal with fresh green juices and Wild Kombucha before diving into the delicious food.
Nashville Cauliflower and Crispy Brussels Sprouts (GF/V)
The cauliflower was probably my favorite part of the meal. It was a unique version of buffalo wings, vegetarian style. The hot sauce was filled with flavor and the cauliflower had a lot of crunch without being soggy or mushy.
And the brussels sprouts were beyond crispy, which is my favorite way to eat them!
Fried Chicken Cobb Salad (subbed grilled chicken)
I’m never afraid to ask for substitutions when I travel to make meals a bit healthier. The fried chicken cobb salad had all my favorite toppings including tomatoes, hard boiled egg, avocado and bacon! I never say no to bacon. And instead of fried chicken, I asked for a grilled piece to make this dish healthier without losing the essence behind the meal!
These gorgeous open faced toasts were so beautiful and the other girls absolutely enjoyed them. I will definitely be recreating these BLT toasts on some sweet potatoes at home! I mean, bacon!!!
800 Key Hwy,
Baltimore, MD 21230
My mouth is still watering thinking about the incredible meal that we had at Cosima. Everything was absolutely perfect — from the beautiful outdoor seating, to the incredible service (ask for April to be your server), to the attention to detail the chef put into curating an allergen friendly meal, to the great tasting food itself.
You can find Cosima down a steep hill leading to Mill №1, but once you reach the bottom, you will feel like you’ve left the city and entered the countryside. The restaurant itself is dark but has ceilings that seem to stretch for miles above the tables. And through the back door, you can find even more seating outside underneath the Expressway.
The evening began with the chef, Donna, explaining every dish she planned to serve and promising it would accommodate my very picky diet of no grains, gluten, dairy and soy, but without compromising on the integrity of the meal. We were treated to a 3 course meal that left no flavor behind as we journeyed through this once in a lifetime delicious Italian meal.
Fermented Vegetables and Olives
I don’t think vegetables ever tasted so good. The simple idea behind pickling cauliflower, pearl onions and carrots provided us with a blast of flavor in every single bite.
Roasted Cauliflower, Caponata, Insalata Di Barbabietole
Our first course featured roasted cauliflower, a Sicilian eggplant salad with chickpea fitters served on the side, and a beet & orange arugula salad with a citrus vinaigrette.
The simplicity of the roasted cauliflower really caught my attention. It was an entire cauliflower head roasted in the wood-fire oven creating the perfect amount of crispiness with loads of flavor. I also loved the freshness of the beets and oranges which paired perfectly with the eggplant in a tomato sauce.
Pesce Alla Griglia, Pollo Allo Spiedo, Ragu Di Cinghiale
I didn’t think the dinner could get any better after our first course, but then the entrees came. And I was blown away by the presentation and the flavors! We dined on a grilled whole bronzino served on a bed of arugula salad, a whole chicken roasted on the spit with glazed carrots, and a slow cooked wild boar, fennel sausage, pancetta ragu in a tomato sauce. The only words I have for this meal are “wow.”
I absolutely loved the lightness of the whole fish which had a crispy skin and was also flaky and extremely flavorful. Don’t forget to squeeze fresh lemon on the fish to make those spices pop!
The chicken showed that something so simple can be so delicious. And if you think the ragu was heavy, think again. It was rich and flavorful and the wild boar seemed to fall apart and melt in your mouth with every bite.
Sfinci and Chocolate/Blackberry Sorbet
And no meal is complete without a decadent dessert. The chocolate sorbet is dairy free made with a rich cocoa that will make you forget you’re not eating ice cream. And the blackberry sorbet is light and fresh (I liked combining the two sorbets on my spoon and eating them at the same time).
And for my gluten eating friends, the Sicilian cinnamon sugar donuts looked amazing. Our waitress came out with the donuts in a brown bag and shook them to evenly coat them with the cinnamon sugar before pouring them out in a bowl on our table. It was a fun, interactive way to serve dessert and was really an amazing way to end this fabulous meal.
Cosima is a restaurant you don’t want to miss if you’re visiing Baltimore. And even with dietary restrictions, you will still have the most delicious tasting meal complete with incredible service and a fun dining atmosphere.
Mill №1, 3000 Falls Rd,
Baltimore, MD 21211
B & O American Brasserie
B & O is located inside the Kimpton Monaco. It is dark, noisy and has a modern vibe to this cool new age restaurant. It was packed for happy hour as we dined on our dinner.
I began my meal with this fresh dandelion greens salad topped with squash blossoms, sunflower sprouts, and radish. It was extremely light and a great way to start my meal.
Grilled Pork Steaks
For my entree, I enjoyed the grilled pork steak with lemon potatoes and wild mushrooms. The meat completely fell apart when you touched it and it melted in your mouth with great flavor.
B & O American Brasserie 2 N Charles St,
Baltimore, MD 21201
Originally published at www.balancedlife-leslie.com on September 20, 2017.