Friday, May 3, 2013


Carbs Galore in the Himalyas

There is absolutely no shortage of carbs in Nepal, especially while trekking and rafting. My body had to get used to the absurd amounts of carbs I was eating and it was not a pleasant experience in the beginning. However, since we were doing so much exercise, it wasn't too bad after the 10 days. Our bodies took in all the carbs, quickly converted them to sugars and gave us plenty of energy to trek anywhere between 4 to 9 hours in a day at an average altitude of basically 4,000 meters (13,000 feet).
Food does not really grow very well around the Himalayas during winter. Temperatures get freezing cold and the soil also freezes up. Most people rely on more 'durable' or 'root' vegetables such as potatoes, carrots or cabbage that are brought in by mules in some of the more remote areas and other items such as spinach is often dried so that it can last through the tough winter months. Given the unavailability of fresh vegetables or fruit while we trekked (yes, March is still considered winter), there was not a single day during our 33-day trek that we did not eat carbs: between eating one more carb and starving and feeling weak, we definitely opted for carbs. Carbs are a curcial and essential component of the Himal (mountain) diet, without them, it would be very tough to get through the day.
Here is a list of all the different carbs we ate, we had unimaginable loads of potatoes, yards and yards of noodles, piles of chapatti (essentially a flour tortilla) and heaps and heaps of rice among other interesting ones:

Champa porridge made out of buckwheat (carb), a good breakfast item

Buckwheat (carb) pancake for either breakfast or with curry for lunch

Yak Cheese sandwich on a white bread roll (carb) and french fries (carb)

Potatoes (carb) with a little egg and shredded vegetables - the dark picture reflects the lack of electricity during most dinners!

"Chowmein" basic noodles (carb) with egg - I'm pretty sure the 'noodles' were just dried pasta that was cooked and then labeled as noodle

Samar bread (flour (carb), baking powder and water) with cheese, a special item in Samar, Upper Mustang

"Spaghetti" (carbs), momos (carbs) and curry with rice (carbs)
Noodle (carbs) soup, with chapatti (carbs)

Banana pancake (carbs) with honey - it was very exciting to find banana!

Apple pancake (carbs) with honey
Plain chapatti (carbs) with plain omelette in between for lunch outside of Lomanthang, Upper Mustang (only 7 kms away from the Tibet/China border with Nepal)
Plain chapatti (carbs) with fake red jam as a snack in Yara, eastern Upper Mustang
Fried prawn cracker (probably carbs) and fried pieces of dough (definitely carbs) - the appetizer we ate at a wedding we attended in Samar
Somme of the better carbs we had! Homemade toast with yak cheese, jam, butter, seabuckthorn juice, organic coffee and a chocolatey croissant (at YacDonald's in Kagbeni, Nepal)

Finally, although there was a carb overkill during our stay in Nepal, I definitely learned to appreciate where all these grains come from. A lot of different kinds of wheat is grown throughout some of the regions we trekked and it looked like really tough work. From tilling the soil with oxen to harvesting the grain by hand, I am simply amazed at how cheap grains are. A lot of the hillsides are terraces where grains grow and are later harvested. Some of the trails go right through the rows and rows of colorful grain everywhere, adding a really unique element of beauty to the Himalaya landscape.


  1. It looks like a Latino diet. Full of carbs but some meat as well.

    1. That's a good point! But I think the Latino diet is a lot better - the yucca and the plantains would've been a nice touch!


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