Raise your hand if are on a diet or have ever been on a diet? Don’t be ashamed. My hand is raised. Over the course of my life, I have tried a number of diets to try achieve specific results at one time or another. But as you and I both know through trial and error, diets don’t work. If they did the weight loss industry wouldn’t be raking in billions on weight loss products.
No, you can’t eat that.
Does it feel good to hear that? Most people would say no. The concept of a diet in itself is super restrictive and marks people with a scarlet letter. It makes people feel shame for the foods they love and enjoy which is super counter intuitive to how the body actually works. News flash — if you’re craving a certain food, there might be a hormonal imbalance your body is trying to stabilize. Try not to jump on the diet plan bandwagon when your body starts working against you. Instead try listening to and working with your body to learn what is working and what isn’t.
Diet plans to avoid —
Fat-free diet plans
Low-Protein diet plans What?! Madness!
Sweet ‘n Low diet plans
Calorie counting diet plans
Eat less, workout more diet plans
— so why should you avoid diet plans? Diet plans, as we mentioned above, are super restrictive. Not only to you and the foods you choose but to the amount nutrients you allow the body to receive. All foods are categorized into 3 macronutrient groups. Protein, fat and carbs and each group has a very specific caloric profile.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of carbs = 4 calories
When manipulating your caloric intake by restricting yourself from or to certain foods you create an imbalance in the body that will cause the body to react adversely due to a lack of nutritional content. The body needs vitamins, minerals and fibers to function — it cannot be restricted to a simple few foods. This is one of the reasons, diet plans are not sustainable long term. The body needs complex carbohydrates.
Another reason we want to avoid diet plans all together is because it takes the fun and joy out of eating. Eating is supposed to enjoyable and fulfilling. A number of studies show that there is a direct link between our metabolism and the emotional state we’re in when we eat. This my friends is called intuitive or mindful eating. If you’re stress or emotionally eating, guess what your body is able to absorb all the nutrients you are providing the body (even if it’s a buddha salad) because there is a disconnect between mind and body. If you are playing on your phone or watching tv while you eat, you are missing the signals your body is sending letting you know “I’m full.” — “I’d like more chicken.” “hydrate me please.” potentially causing you to eat more than you probably needed to. On the flip side of that, if you are actively engaging in your meal and appreciating the flavors and foods you are eating — you are connecting mind and body making it that much easier and efficient for the body to communicate these signals.
What should I eat?
Everything. In moderation of course. Never thought you’d head a nutrition coach say that eh? But yes — I absolutely believe everything (except for highly processed foods, bad sugars and trans fats) on the menu is up for grabs… in moderation. I cannot stress that enough. Our body is our vehicle to being able to express ourselves physically, verbally and spiritually; and it is always communicating with us. Now whether or not we drop the ball on listening to what it needs and wants is on us.
Today for example, I had the strangest urge to go for a walk down the trail I normally run and sit at the foot of the dock near the water. I lay there for a few minutes feeling the sun on my skin, listening to the wind, the water running and the birds flying over me. It was also a busy work day so to have this feeling circling back only let me know that that was something my body needed. It needed a break from blogging — from being in front of the computer, from technology. I just wanted some good ol fashion vitamin D.
— Our Belgian version of Taco Tuesday!
Every other Sunday our family has a tradition of preparing my husband’s Hearty Healthy Bolognese. We prepare a large quantity in my Le Creuset pot and freeze the leftovers for the week. The kids love being able to preheat leftovers as an after school snack. HINT HINT batch cooking comes in handy on busy days you don’t have time to prepare meals from scratch!
The bolognese is super healthy and contains protein and the cooked tomatoes contain super powerful antioxidants. Did you know if you are only eating fresh tomatoes you are missing out on the powerful antioxidative qualities of lycopene? It’s true. According to the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, fresh tomatoes have a thick cellular wall that makes it more difficult for our body to absorb lycopene. The cooking process actually helps break down this cellular structure and allows the body to easily absorb its nutrients. Consider adding homemade tomato sauces, pastes and healthy homemade ketchup to your diet to make sure you are benefit fully from the antioxidants found in tomatoes.
Get a copy of A Happy Healthy Cookbook for instant access to 100 plant-based recipes (including my homemade Ketchup recipe) and start batch cooking today!
TIP. If you are intentionally planning for a batch cook, be sure to under cook the veggies so as not to lose too many nutrients. Freeze dishes immediately after cool down.
Total time 1 hour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
4 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground chuck beef
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1. In a large skillet or Le Creuset pot heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions become very soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
2. Add the celery, carrots, zucchini slices and mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.
3. Raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Saute, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, it will take about 40 minutes. Check seasoning. If the sauce is a little too acidic, you can add a teaspoon of honey to balance the acid/sweet taste.
5. Add basil just before serving.
6. Serve with the pasta listed above and with Parmesan cheese.
Motivating ourselves to commit to fitness regiments during winter months can be a tough challenge. The days are short, there’s a lack of general sunlight and it’s cold — really cold. Especially here in Belgium, where it decided to start snowing again. Thanks Punxsutawney Phil for the additional six weeks of winter. You. Are. Awesome.
If you live in a snow city like I do, you know how difficult it can be to motivate yourself to go outdoors but I’m here to use today’s blog post as a reminder to myself (and my readers) that A. fitness is essentially to overall health and B. fitness can help us beat these funky winter blues we’ve all been feeling. Research shows that exercise and a regular fitness regiment can significantly improve our mood and reduce feelings of anxiety, sadness or depression so what are we waiting for!
Mother Nature is looking out for us.
Eco-psychologists believe that there is a direct link between the natural world and our mood states. Those who live in greener spaces, or have a view of trees or a natural landscape experience positive mood states that help balance and heal the body faster than those who live in walled or bricked spaces.
If you live a space with a view, consider stretching or practicing yoga a few times a week outdoors or near a window where you can actively meditate by focusing your energy on your breathing and the natural beauty around you.
If you do not live a green space, it’s time to go plant shopping. In Belgium (and most of Europe), the #plantsmakepeoplehappy lifestyle trend is growing quickly and more and more I see gorgeous beautiful tropical plants being housed in small loft apartments. A large majority of these plants serve to revitalize the air in small spaces and provide the much needed connection with nature during these long winter months but the same goes for you — roll out your mat and enjoy a yoga session amidst your indoor jungle.
Embrace the outdoors
Now that you have your playlists ready — it’s time to hit the pavement. I know it’s cold but we all know once we start running we will feel instantly better and our bodies will warm up. We’ll wonder “why haven’t I been doing this all winter” as we breathe in the fresh air.
TIP #1. Exercise warms the body quickly and enough to make you feel like it’s 30 degrees warmer. Be sure to dress in layers yet warm enough for the cool down because once the sweat dries you’ll feel colder.
TIP #2. Check your weather app to plan your runs or fitness goals for the week. If you know the weather is going to be nice towards the end of the week be sure to take advantage of the good weather and plan accordingly. Fitness during winter months will do more for your mental and emotional health than we give it credit for.
Try out something new
If embracing the outdoors is simply out of the question (I don’t blame you) — try out something new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but put on the back burner? Well… now is the time sign up for that indoor basketball league, join a yoga studio, try barre, or take dance lessons. The options are many — simple get online and research what works for you, your schedule and your budget.
Eat mood boosting foods
This is good news! There are a ton of scientific studies that indicate that chocolate makes us happy. The Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland found that eating dark chocolate (70% and more) every day for more than two weeks reduces stress hormones. Dark chocolate also helps to release serotonin, the feel good and happy hormone, and relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system.
This Spinach Smoothie Bowl is a great source of nutrients but above all protein! Popeye the sailor had a good reason to love spinach. Check out this impressive list of nutrients of 1 cup of raw spinach leaves:
145 mg Vitamin K (223% DV)
141 mg Vitamin A (28% DV)
58 mg Folate (18% DV)
.27 mg Manganese (15% DV)
8.4 mg Vitamin C (14% DV)
0.8 mg Iron (10% DV)
24 mg Magnesium (7.5% DV)
30 mg Calcium (3.75% DV) 800
167 g Potassium (3.6% DV)
Spinach is such a fantastic veggie, so versatile, and also comes along with it’s very own special list of health benefits that help cleanse the body. Phytonutrients, a main ingredient found in spinach, helps detox the body and boosts liver function to keep the gut healthy. It also reduces inflammation in the digestive tract using carotenoids. And did we mention spinach is fiber rich? Fiber in the morning will help promote a healthy bowel movement and prevent constipation or other digestive irregularities.
TIP. Other great great sources of fiber include oranges, bananas, avocados, popcorn, carrots, sweet potatoes, cocoa powder and whole grain pastas.
The Cons —
There are none silly***! Spinach has virtually no flavor on its own, is nutrient rich and pairs well with everything. Use it to add color and texture to your salads and smoothies. However people with leaky gut,kidney stones or suffering from fibrosis, fibromyalgia, thyroid disease, arthritis or asthma should eat spinach in moderation.
Yes! What a fun topic to write about this week. I just love farmers markets. The vendors switch up from week to week; and there’s always delicious organic foods, creamy cheeses and fresh baked breads in the stands. I can never stop myself from sampling the variety of quiches and pastries they have for sale. Can you tell I’m excited? Well I am. If you’re new to the idea of shopping open markets or farmers markets the thought can be intimidating but not to worry, today I’m going to share a few helpful tips for shopping your local farmers market that will make your first experience a great one.
Farmers markets vary from city to city — some are stationary and open each weekend while others are more like pops up that are built and broken down in various parks, lots or centers around the city. If you are visiting a new or unfamiliar farmers market be sure to dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes. You’ll find that visiting an open market is a little different than going to the grocery store. There will be variety of vendors selling fresh foods and other vendors selling fresh cut flowers and plants, handmade soaps and artisan crafts making ‘shopping’ more of a leisure activity. Plan to spend between an hour to two hours at the market. Possibly more if you stop to oo and ah at every stand.
Some markets have areas set up for light lunches and wine tastings during summer months making it a fun atmosphere for families or couples. Farmers markers are great for day-dates and getting out of the house. Find one near you!
Bring a tote!
I recommend bringing a tote from home for multiple reasons. It helps limit your purchases to what you can fit in the bag. Trust me — you will try and buy everything the first few times you go. Not all vendors will have shopping bags, plus totes are also environmentally friendly. In Belgium, its second nature to reuse and recycle (mainly because it’s the law) but the culture of recycling doesn’t seem to carry over into other parts of the world. Did you know that plastic shopping bags will take 1000 years to degrade? Now take a guess how many the US throws away each year? … 100 billion according to Rensselaer County Legislature. That’s truly a sad number. Let’s try and do our part to be environmentally conscious by using utility totes when we can.
As they say, cash is king. You will most likely not find an ATM on site so plan ahead before heading over to the farmers market. Few vendors will process credit cards but all take cash. The good news about cash is that you’ll have to plan and budget your spending at the market for the items you actually need and some prices are negotiable — if you’re good at haggling. And again, a fixed budget will keep you from going overboard on non necessities.
Shopping in season
This is my favorite aspect of shopping the farmers market — I always shop what’s in season. I may not be able to afford to do that with my wardrobe but shopping fresh fruits and veggies in season actually saves me money. Seasonal produce is locally sourced and essentially sold farm to table, everything is fresh, tasty and cheap because it doesn’t need to travel far or be stored. Shopping seasonally is also a great way to get exposed to new fresh fruits and veggies grown in your area you would normally not think to try and promotes eating the rainbow.
Another great perk to shopping in season is that farmers typically have a surplus of their yield and will sell in bulk for cheap. You will not believe the money you will save when you buy blueberries or strawberries in bulk and freeze for later use. Support the local farmers in your area by shopping seasonally.
This fabulous Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Tamari recipe could not come at a better time. Many people suffer from SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, during winter months and it tends to get worse just before the Spring (yes this is a real thing). Common symptoms are anxiety, sadness, hopelessness and what they call the emotional equivalent of watching paint dry. But not to worry my friends! There’s nothing wrong with you — it’s the weird light-dark cycle of the day winter brings we all dislike. You can combat the effects of SAD by spending more time outdoor (Vitamin D) and eating more Omega 3s. The days are getting warmer (in some places) so try and make an effort to stretch your legs by taking your fur friend for a walk and breathing in the fresh crisp air.
This particular Steamed Sea Bass recipe may sound complicated but it’s actually pretty easy to prepare. I love making it for my kids because it takes me back to my childhood days in Hong Kong when my mother would prepare it for me. I love Asian markets. I love all the strange smells and ingredients. As a culinary artist, I am always looking to reinvent recipes and add a new flare.
The Benefits of Omega 3s
Sea Bass, like most fish, is loaded with Omega 3s which are super important to heart health. Heart disease continues to be a leading cause of death worldwide. By eating foods rich in Omega 3s (such as fish) you can lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting and decrease the risk of strokes and potential heart failure.
TIP. During winter months, October through March, I especially like to recommend Omega 3 supplements for days you are not able to eat foods rich in Omega 3s.
Omega 3s are also super important to mental health and brain function. According to research conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega 3s are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to have a direct effect on cognitive and behavioral brain function.
And last but not least, Omega 3s have a huge impact on your gut health. An incredible medical paper was published last year in US National Library of Medicine noting the direct correlation between diets rich in Omega 3s and gut health, and shed light on its relation to several chronic diseases.
Other foods rich in Omega 3s are Atlantic Mackerel, Alaskan Salmon, Albacore Tuna, White Fish, Anchovies, egg yolks, Chia seeds and walnuts.
Prep time : 50 minutes
Ingredients for the Sea Bass
1 inch (10g) fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb. skinless sea bass fillet or any other white fish
2 Tbsp. tamari
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
½ red chili, cut into fine strips
Cilantro to serve
Lime wedges to serve
Ingredients for Salad
1 carrot, cut into small cubes
6 radishes, cut into small cubes
4 inches daikon, cut into small cubes
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Ingredients for Extra sauce (optional)
1 Tbsp. tamari
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1. Cut the sea bass in single portions.
2. Mix the tamari and sesame oil together and spoon half of the marinade over the fish. Sprinkle with the ginger, red chili strips and cilantro leaves. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.
3. Put a steamer on to boil.
4. Prepare the salad by mixing all the ingredients and pour the other half of the marinade, mix well to coat.
5. Place the fish into the steamer, cover and steam for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fillets are just cooked through.
6. Sprinkle the fish with extra fresh cilantro before serving, serve with the salad, lime wedges, extra sauce and why not steamed rice!
What do broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale have in common?
A. They are vegetables.
B. They contain phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.
C. They are rich in fiber.
D. All of the above.
D. All of the above.
Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale are all part of the cruciferous family and these vegetables are essential to a proper balanced diet.
WHOSE ON THE LIST?
✓ Bok Choy
✓ Brussel Sprouts
✓ Collard Greens
✓ Mustard greens
…and now why are they so important?
One of the main reasons cruciferous vegetables play such an important role in a maintaining a proper balanced diet is because they are rich in cancer preventing agents called glucosinolates. The National Cancer Institute dubbed glucosinolates the secret weapon against cancer because of its sulfuric powerhouse chemicals that break down during the digestive process into active compounds that prevent cancer cells from growing. The active compounds work hand in hand with your liver to produce enzymes that detox your DNA from free-radical attacks. Glucosinolates also have anti-inflammatory properties, prevent tumor formation and metastasis and reprogram cancer cells to die off.
CANCER RESEARCH : IT’S IN THE DATA
A review of research published in 1996 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that 70% or more of the studies found a direct link between cruciferous vegetables and the protection against cancerous cells.
Another study published in the Journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention that same year concluded that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables indicated a decreased risk of both primary and secondary cancers. This association appears most commonly in lung cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer.
WHAT DOES A PROPER BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
For maximizing the health benefits of cruciferous veggies, I recommend adding at least one of the veggies from the list above to your daily diet each day. Keep it interesting by switching it up.
TIPS for cooking with cruciferous vegetables
Don’t overcook them!
Eat broccoli or cauliflower raw to boost benefits.
Add chopped cruciferous veggies to your soup or stew for more flavor.
This week’s good eats recipe calls for a healthy fat, coconut oil. Healthy fats like coconut oil are mostly medium-chain fatty acids that give your metabolism a boost! Guess what else increases your metabolism? Cocoa powder. Raw cocoa powder can not only improve your metabolism but also optimizes how your body uses energy. Now you don’t have to feel bad about having Cashew Chocolate Fudge in the freezer. Other recipes that include cocoa powder are Guilt Free Chocolate Spread and Chocolate And Avocado Mousse.
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Prep time 5 minutes
Serving 8 fudges
½ lb (200 g) cashew butter
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp of coconut oil
1 tbsp of vanilla powder
1 tbsp of cocoa powder
1.Heat the coconut oil over medium heat for a few seconds in a pan to make liquid.
2. Then add the melted coconut butter, cashew butter, honey, cocoa powder and vanilla powder to a bowl and whisk until smooth.
3. Line a porcelain or glass flat dish with parchment paper.
4. Pour the mixture into the flat dish.
5. Put the flat dish in the freezer for about an hour.
6. Cut into squares and serve.
When you’re trying to tone or lose weight working out is only half the battle. The good news is what you eat is the other half. When committing to a workout regiment, be it low intensity regiments such as yoga or Pilates or high intensity such as boot-camp and cross-fit, it’s important to properly nourish the body to keep it functioning efficiently. Here are 5 healthy recipes to prepare after your workouts. The body uses so much energy during a workout that it’s important to refuel and replenish with foods geared towards strengthening your body as a whole.
The Avo Burger by Delphine Remy | Follow @delphremy - YouTube
AVO + SALMON BURGER Ingredients
Red onion rings
1. Mix hummus with beet juice.
2. Next, cut and peel the avocado.
3. Fill one of the hollowed halves of avocado with beet hummus.
4. Add arugula.
5. Top with more beet hummus.
6. Add a slice of salmon.
7. Add a slice of beet and red onion.
8. Top with more beet hummus.
9. Complete by adding the other avocado half.
CURRY SWEET POTATOES WITH BROCCOLI + CASHEWS
Courtesy of Plant-based enthusiast @86lemons
Vegan + Gluten-free
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
3 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
5 celery stalks, cut in half lengthwise and chopped
½ cup raisins
1 cup cashews pieces/halves
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
½ cup vegan mayonnaise
1 Tbsp curry powder
2 tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp water
(optional) large curly lettuce leaves for garnish
1. Add cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender (about 5 minutes). Do not overcook potatoes or they will lose their shape. Drain and set aside.
2. Steam broccoli florets until tender-crisp.
3. Add potatoes, broccoli, red pepper, celery, raisins cashews and cilantro to a large bowl; gently fold to combine.
4. In a small bowl, combine vegan mayonnaise, curry, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Add olive oil; stir to incorporate. Add water; stir to incorporate. Add to sweet potato mixture and gently fold to combine all ingredients. May be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Plate individual servings on a single large curly lettuce leaf if desired.
While ‘snacking’ has gained a bad reputation over the years, it’s actually an important part of maintaining a healthy diet. Snacking can provide much needed energy during low periods of the day curb cravings and prevent overeating at meal times. Now of course not all foods are on the approved healthy snacks list but Vegan Tzatziki is.
Vegan Tzatziki is a creamy delicious dip perfect for dipping and ideal for those on strict dairy-free and lactose-free diets. The dip itself is comprised of cashews, tahini and two cloves of garlic and goes well with fresh veggies such as carrots, celery or cucumbers.
Prep time 5 minutes
Serving 2 to 4
1 cup cashews soaked for 2-4 hours
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves
6 tbsp of water (more or less)
1 cucumber, diced
1 tbsp dill
1 tbsp parsley
1/2 tbsp mint salt/pepper to taste
1. Place cashews, lemon juice, tahini, garlic cloves, water, salt/pepper, into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. I use a Thermomix or a Vitamix ?
2. Remove from the blender and place mixture in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add all other ingredients — diced cucumbers, dill, parsley, mint, and salt/pepper to taste.
4. Adjust seasoning as desired.
TIP : Serve with salad, falafel, or just simply as a dipping sauce for veggies. Enjoy!