During my year abroad, I had the chance to try some of Israel’s most incredible foods. When people think of Israel, they usually think of shwarma and falafel, but there is SO much more than that.
Breakfast in Israel: shakshuka, Israeli salad (tomatoes and cucumbers), jachnun, malowach, Pita dipped in babaganush, hummus, stuffed hard boiled eggs, falafel, potatoes, cottage cheese, etc.
Breakfast in America: cereal, yogurt, or eggs. You can see the difference, right?
In my first six months of living in Jerusalem, I gained the freshman 1,000. I lived next to a street that had cafés, waffle bars, pizza, sushi, and pasta restaurants.
I lived about 10 minutes from the Shuk: the local market. I remember my first day exploring the Shuk with my best friends. It soon became my favorite place to be while studying abroad. Fresh fruits, dried fruits, fresh veggies, fresh challah (hollaaaaaaaaa), candy, nuts, meat, cheese; the list goes on.
We started our day off with some iced Aroma coffee and made our way to the bakery side of the market. RUGELACH. That is all I have to say. Warm chocolate croissants that melt in your mouth and make your eyes roll back from how good they are.
For the last six months of the year, I was closer to my family so I went there every Friday for Shabbat dinner. My aunts are the best cooks I know. Their mindset was, “if you can see any part of the tablecloth, you’re doing it wrong.”
They would make chicken, stuffed peppers, potatoes, pasta, hummus platters, pitas with schniztel and French fries in them, and anything breaded or fried.
Dessert was my favorite. My aunt would make crepes with Nutella, Nutella chocolate balls, chocolate mousse cake, halva (sesame candy), and baklava.
When I got back from Israel, I felt like a whale. I had gained a lot of weight and knew I needed to get back on my routine to lose it. I started working out every day, going to Orange Theory and yoga, and eating really healthy. I only allowed myself to have sweets on the weekend.
For breakfast, I’d usually have oatmeal with protein powder mixed in, yogurt with granola and berries, or egg whites. For lunch, I’d have salad with hard-boiled eggs, tuna, or chicken in it for protein. For dinner, I’d have salmon, chicken, or tofu with veggies and quinoa or brown rice. It differed every day so that I wouldn’t get sick of eating the same foods.
I cut out a lot of carbs completely, and that’s where I noticed a big difference. It felt really good to look in the mirror and actually feel good about myself and know my hard work was paying off. That being said, I have no regrets about my experience in Israel.
If I could give any advice to anyone studying abroad, it would be to simply enjoy it. Eat everything, learn the culture and the foods and take it all in, just in moderation.
It’s really hard to stop ourselves from eating foods that are delish, but we shouldn’t restrict ourselves form having them; we just have to learn portion control. After all, the freshman 15 only lasts freshman year. Remember that.