Going low carb & sugar free

Going low carb & sugar free

Well for 2 weeks that is. These past few weeks, because life just got super busy, I wasn’t all that much into healthy eating. Add on numerous outings, birthdays and other occasions that warrant yummy food of the not so healthy variety and I got to a point where I felt bloated and tired again. Which means it’s time for a change! To kickstart that I decided to take my 2 week summer tenure as a good way to get back into the swing of things.

going low carb and sugar free

Going low carb and sugar free for two weeks

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Food haul

Food haul

I’ve really been trying to be more diligent about my eating patterns again. After having dabbled in low carbing, and going completely wheat free, things improved greatly and I found that I could eat anything I want again without too much discomfort. But that did mean that I went a little overboard. So late last summer I decided I needed a complete overhaul. I started working our more again and I made a point of eating food I love, while cooking regular meals and having the occasional treat as well. That’s why I thought it would be good to show you what I roughly buy on a weekly basis when I get my groceries. I hope you enjoy!

food haul

A recent food shop

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Recipe: Banana-coconut cake (wheat & sugar free)

Recipe: Banana-coconut cake (wheat & sugar free)

A healthy cake? When I spotted this recipe, I knew I had to try it. I’ve been meaning to do some more baking again, but I just haven’t had the time to find new recipes to try. Until I spotted this that is. I found it on a random health website, which linked to this one, where you can find the original recipe in Dutch. I adapted it to fit my own needs and came out with this: a delicious yet healthy banana-coconut cake.

bananacoconutcake1_zpskusrtikm

Healthy banana-coconut cake

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Savory & sweet cheese salad

Savory & sweet cheese salad

Salads have been a go to meal for me for years now and I have come across some great combinations. My general rule of thumb is to add plenty of greens in the shape of lettuce and spinach and then pack with with more veggies with my basis usually being tomatoes and cucumbers. I like topping it up with some protein and where I sometimes go for meat, I very often opt for cheese as well. It not only provides some highly nutritious ingredients to any salad you make, but it also adds a yumminess factor.

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Recipe: curried chicken with veggie stir fry & mango

Recipe: curried chicken with veggie stir fry & mango

Time for a quick and easy recipe again. This is another one of those “buy-ingredients-and-throw-it-together” type dishes that make up most of my every day cooking. I felt like trying something different. I marinated some chicken with curry powder, made a quick green veggie stir fry and topped up the dish with diced mango and crumbled cashew nuts. In other words, a little bit of Indian and Asian cuisine and a little bit of me. Here’s what I did.

Serves 2. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes. Total: 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

For the marinade

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • curry powder to taste
  • paprika powder to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • salt to taste (optional)
  • 200 – 300 grams of chicken breast (diced)

For the veggie stir fry:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 300 grams of fresh spinach
  • 150 grams of bean sprouts
  • 150 grams of legumes

To top things off:

  • 1 mango (diced)
  • 2 handfuls of roasted cashew nuts

Tools:

  • Bowl
  • 2 frying pans (or one wok and a frying pan)
  • cutting board and a knife

Preparation:

1. In a bowl, mix up the ingredients for the marinade.

2. Cut your chicken in roughly equal diced shaped pieces

3. Place chicken in marinade and make sure the chicken is covered in the marinade. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes.

4. While you wait for the chicken to soak up all the flavors of the marinade, cut your mango into small cubes.

5. Put some olive oil in a wok or frying pan with a high rim and heat up.

6. Start wilting your spinach. Take a few handfuls and let stir while it shrinks. Keep going until almost all your spinach is gone. Leave about 1 or 2 handfuls for later.

7. Add your other veggies. Keep stirring it together for a bit on high heat.

8. Reduce the heat on your vegetables and heat up your other frying pan.

9. On high heat brown your chicken (no extra oil needed). Cook until done.

10. Add the remainder of your spinach and add it to your veggies that should be done by now. Wait for the spinach to have wilted slightly, but not all the way so the texture remains.

11. Put the food on a plate: start with a bed of veggies, add the chicken.

12. Take your mango pieces and place them on top.

13. Take a handful of cashew nuts and crumble them over the plate by squeezing and rubbing them together in your hands.

You should have a flavorful dish with a mixture of warm and cold and a bit of spice. The curry and the mango flavors complement each other nicely, while the cashews and legumes add a nice crunch. The spinach adds some much needed fibers and nutrients, while the bean sprouts tie it all together.

Bon appetit!
Do you have any recipe suggestions you’d like to see on here?

Healthy food shopping

Healthy food shopping

It’s almost the start of a new month and that means that I tend to restock my cupboards with foods that last me longer than a week. Especially now that I’m home, I have time for preparing meals and trying out new things. So last week I found myself going to my local organic supermarkets, health store, supermarket AND farmer’s market to get myself some food. I also bought perishables (mostly not pictured) and I don’t usually get this much, but I simply ran out of a lot of different things these past few weeks and I found new things to try. And since you all seemed to like the sneak peeks into my fridge and pantry, I hereby give you a mini-update of what I’m currently keeping stocked.

Everything I got.

Some explanation: the plastic bag in the right bottom corner contains fresh fish from the market and there are also some olives in there. Both aren’t pictured below.

English tea shop tea – Chamomile & White tea

Pukka Vanilla Chai tea & Clipper Mint tea

I decided to stock up on some more tea. I still have a ton from my trip to Twinings in London, but this girl can never have enough tea. I did run out of a few of my favorites and after finding out that Lipton tea in fact contains sugar (so much for a healthy cup of tea) I thought it would be a good idea to get some organic tea that surely won’t have any additives I don’t know.

Carrot & beetroot juice

Apple-cranberry juice & coconut water with pineapple juice

I’ve been on quite the vegetable juice kick. I buy these from my organic supermarket. They are 100% juice, no additives and taste great. I don’t like straight up veggie juice though, so I tend to mix in some fruit juice for flavor. I mix the carrot juice with some freshly squeezed orange juice and I thought I’d try the beetroot with apple-cranberry juice. Both combinations are delicious and if you’re wondering: why don’t you just make the juice yourself? I don’t have a juicer and don’t want one either (no space and they seem like a pain to clean and I’m lazy like that).

Buckwheat groats, lentils, hemp seeds

Rice cakes & buckwheat crackers (no added salt or sugars)

Popped quinoa

I also stocked up on some grain/ starchy products. I realized how long it had been since I have had porridge, so I got the buckwheat groats to do that. Lentils I haven’t ventured into all that much yet, so I’ve decided to buy some and force myself to try them. I’ve been loving seeds (sunflower & pumpkin) and I’ve been meaning to try hemp seeds for a while now. Rice cakes have become a staple for me but I only like them if they don’t have that many additives. Same goes for the crackers. Not a big fan of quinoa (not just because of the flavor, but also because of the controversies surrounding this highly popular grain), but I just had to try these. I hope they can add a bit more crunch to my morning yoghurt.

Almonds covered in milk chocolate & cinnamon, Nakd bars in Cashew Cookie & Cocoa Orange, lump of young cheese

Wheat free chocolate & orange cookies, cocoa nibs

Snack time! I allow myself some snacks during the weekend. Just recently I found these chocolate covered almonds with a dusting of cinnamon. They remind me of truffel ‘pepernoten’… Nuff said! The Nakd bars are my favorite raw dairy & wheat free snack bars. Filled with real ingredients they are great for a quick bite during the day. I also love to snack on some cheese throughout the week. This much cheese probably lasts me about 1.5 – 2 weeks though. Lots to go on. I also repurchased my favorite cookies because I had a friend come over during the weekend. And cocoa nibs… I used to have these for a while and now I’ve started to miss them. I still want to try sticking these in a banana bread instead of chocolate chips!

Crunchy peanut butter & wheat free soy sauce

Spirulina powder & beepollen

I also bought some condiments. I got a tip that organic peanut butter is much more tasty & good for you than the standard one. This one is only made of roasted peanuts. Haven’t tried it yet. And lo and behold! I found wheat free soy sauce. Finally! I made sushi last week and it gave me a stomachache all over again. Now I can test whether it’s the rice or the soy sauce. Lastly I bought some more ‘superfoods’ (really, who came up with that term?): spirulina is a dried and ground to powder seaweed and was on sale. Beepollen are apparently also really good for you. Together with the hemp seeds, something to use in my morning yoghurt, over my salads or with any of my smoothies.

Have you tried any of these foods before? What was your experience?

I bought these items from:

Ekoplaza, Zaailing, De Tuinen, Hoogvliet, Saturday farmer’s market in Leiden city center.

What’s in my pantry?

What’s in my pantry?

A few weeks ago I turned you all into the voyeurs that you are and allowed you a look inside my fridge. Since I keep mostly perishables in there, the content changes weekly, whereas my pantry is the place where I store all dry goods which last decidedly longer. Here’s what currently sitting on my shelves. Again, this post will not only show you that, but at the same time give you ideas for replacements of refined sugar, wheat and gluten. Hope you enjoy!

Goodies for baking and some breakfast ‘cereals’: almond meal/ flour, spelt flour, baking soda, baking powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa flakes and a flaxseed, cocoa & berry mixture.

I don’t use regular wheat flour anymore for baking. I mostly use almond flour, but for more traditional recipes I find that spelt flour works just as good as a replacement for wheat flour. I love these little jars of baking soda & powder which I got so long ago at the local international supermarket. I simply reuse them every time. For breakfast I’ve come up with my own concoction to make up breakfast cereals since I went on my wheat free quest. The only thing I still have to try is the mixture of flaxseeds, cocoa & berries.

Other ‘grain’ products: oats, buckwheat flour, kamut pasta, sushi rice, rice cakes and gluten free ‘black bread’

To get my grain kick I still have a few items in my pantry that do have the grains but not the wheat (and often the gluten). The oats are only there for when I want to bake banana/ oat cookies and I use buckwheat to make banana bread. The pasta is a left over from when I wanted to try kamut pasta. Spelt pasta doesn’t fully agree with me, so I tried this and it’s yummy and hasn’t given me any problems. The only time I still eat rice is when I make sushi, which I like to make myself as well, because the store bought variety has a ton of additives and other things in it which make it so bad for you (seriously! read the ingredient list when you have the chance…). The last picture shows my substitutes for bread: I snack on rice cakes spread with peanut butter or apple spread after a work out and the black bread I take with me to work for my Friday lunch. It’s the only wheat free bread I’ve found.

Sugar and its substitutes: honey, stevia, palm or coconut sugar, light brown sugar, salt, white sugar, instant hot chocolate

Let’s get on with the bad stuff. The sugar, instant hot chocolate and brown sugar were tucked into a faraway corner of my pantry after I took these pictures. The reasons? I’ve pretty much stopped using them completely and only keep them in case of visitors or when I’m baking something that is seriously bad. The top picture shows what I’ve been using to replace them. I’ve only used the stevia and palm sugar once, but I can already say that I love both of them: great sweet taste, but without the badness of actual white sugar. I love how palm sugar resembles light brown sugar so much in texture and look that it really adds a little extra to whatever you sprinkle it on. Honey is something I used most to replace sugar, mainly in baking, but ever since I’ve cut down on sugar I stopped putting honey on my breakfast I find myself using it less and less.

Oils, vinegars & sauces: sunflower oil, extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce

This category is pretty straight forward. I sometime use sunflower oil for baking (vegan recipes often ask for it). The olive and coconut oil is for every day cooking. I prefer coconut oil by now, but I find olive oil a tad handier when making marinades or for anything you need a liquid oil. In summer it’s no problem to use coconut oil as it melts at higher temperatures, but now its colder I prefer using olive oil and saving myself the hassle. I don’t keep regular vinegar as I never finish a bottle and I only use it for very specific uses anyway: when a recipe calls for it. Same for the sauces: hardly use them, but they’re handy to have if you need them.

Spreads & other additions: peanut butter, apple spread, almond butter, tahin (sesame seed butter), cocoa powder, desiccated coconut, freezedried & ground up blackberries

Peanut butter & apple spread go onto rice cakes after a work out. I sometimes use peanut butter for 2 ingredient pancakes or oat/ banana cookies and if I want to be naughty, I take a spoon and eat it straight from the jar! Almond butter is for spreading (on a rice cake with banana slices!) and sometimes for baking. I only use tahin when I make hummus, but it’s handy to have. The cocoa goes into smoothies, cookies, pancakes, yoghurt, you name it: if it can have cocoa it will have it. Ground coconut is a favorite here for sprinkling over tons of things as well, usually to replace sugar. The ground up blackberries was a gift (from Estonia!) and I’ve used it to liven up my blueberry smoothies. It makes the color more intense and adds a hint of something sour without it being too overpowering.

Cocoa nibs, coconut flour, soy protein powder

Then on to the last bit. I use the nibs for my overnight oats-without-the-oats breakfast. I find that eating them straight up is a bit tough as they’re very hard and bitter. Essentially it’s ground up cocoa bean, but when I soak them overnight in my yoghurt it gives it just a bit more spunk. I still want to try these in some baked goods as a replacement for chocolate chips! Coconut flour is expensive (the nibs are too btw), so I haven’t used it much yet, but I have to say that I liked the texture when I did. If it wasn’t so darned expensive I would go through bags of these. Protein powder is a pretty much a staple in my cupboard. I go for straight up, no additives, protein powder and so far I’ve only tried hemp protein and this soy protein. Going for organic whey protein next. Great in any post workout smoothie!

How did you like this little look? Anything you keep in your pantry?