As we were making the amazing and incredible drive from Puntarenas to the cloud forest surrounding the town of Monteverde, we saw several of the fruit stands that appear every so often along Costa Rica's main roads. They don't all offer the exact same products, so you can look for what you want. I tend to buy papayas, oranges and strawberries. I am also looking for bananas and platanos, which are good at breakfast.
At the supermarkets such as Pali and Mega Super, you can also get a very good powdered soy, that can be added to something like a fruit smoothie for a protein boost. Consequently I can make an excellent smoothie without any milk, which is very like the protein powder that I buy at Sprouts in Tucson from the Vitamin Code line of products. I actually like it better because for whatever reason the Costa Rican powdered soy does not impart a granular quality to the finished smoothie.
I judge from the spoilage that I see in a package of fruit such as strawberries, that there isn't a great deal of pesticide in use here. All the same, if you have enough Spanish (or a Spanish-speaking companion such as a tour guide or friend), you can ask if the fruit is organica (organic) or sin pesticida (without pesticide).
In the supermarkets you can find stickers, and also ask the clerks the way you would a roadside vendor. As a general rule, if you buy at the roadside, you are getting fruit that was raised on the other side of the fence, on the plantation nearby. Consequently it is fresher than many of us have ever tasted.
On our way to Monteverde my husband's friends bought fresh lychees, a fruit that has a spiny-red skin outside (which you peel off) and a pearly-white fruit with a nut in the middle. The fruit is intensely sweet. We also bought two pipas, or fresh young coconuts. The vendor took a machete and cut off the tops, stuck a straw in and handed it to us--immaculate coconut water, chilled and delicious. I haven't had such a thing since I lived in Guam many years ago.
I can get the same fruit selection and more by going just around the corner from my hotel to the nearest pulperia, where the fruit is marginally less fresh but I don't have to drive around. I don't drive in Costa Rica anyway, because we did not rent a car. My husband borrowed a bicycle from his children, but I don't ride two-wheelers anymore; I have a tricycle built for adults that is all you could wish for, with the huge basket behind the seat.
The possibilities for fruit salad, fruit cocktails and smoothies are endless. You can serve the fruit sweetened, of course, or savory with a simple salad dressing such as Bernice's French Dressing. You can combine like flavors--strawberries, papaya and oranges, for example. Or you can go for contrasts, like crunchy apples with melting soft papaya and the tenderness of really ripe pineapple. If you feel like peeling lychees from the outside, and then removing the fruit from the single nut in the middle, you can dice it and sweeten fruit dishes naturally, using its sweetness to eliminate even the need for Splenda or stevia. This is health on a plate, or in a glass.
There is nothing more to add to this Fit For Life diet except the fresh vegetables that are everywhere, like the round, sturdy-looking carrots that seem to be asking you to juice them or include them in your smoothie (carrot juice is much tastier than cooked carrots, by the way).
In contrast with these ideas, I watched a program on Costa Rican cable television featuring Lisa Liu as she hosted Mario Batali, Tom Colichhio, Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray at a dinner discussing food in America. It was originally broadcast in July of this year, so I was fortunate to catch it as these four giants in American food talked about where they came from and where food is going. In the course of the conversation Batali made a repulsive suggestion: that there will soon be such a protein shortage that we will have to consider eating insects. I couldn't agree less; I would be 100% vegetarian for the rest of my life if I didn't know for sure that the food I was buying was not free of such practices. But we are edging closer to it, as Americans are presented with horsemeat as a protein choice. Just wait--pretty soon you will see the celebrity chefs extolling its exquisite flavor.
I'll take soy powder, thanks.