Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Christmas dinner ~ Ho Ho Ho!



I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that you've spent a wonderful time with the people you love!

Yesterday, my grandmother and my mum's auntie came to our house at 11:00. And from that moment on, all we did was eat (and talk and laugh ... of course).

Today I thought I'd show you some pictures of what was on our Christmas menu. I've eaten waaay too much and am still recovering from the abundance of food. But it was all very tasty and so worth the pain, so I don't care :)


Little snacks:
Puff pastry bites stuffed with minced meat & Mediterranean tapenade // smoked salmon & goat cheese // apple, goat cheese & honey


Entree:
Pink grapefruit stuffed with shrimps and cocktail sauce (with a dash of whiskey)


Main course:
Stuffed turkey with mushroom sauce and cranberries, brussels sprouts and croquettes


Dessert:
Chocolate mousse and cakes


Let me know what was on your Christmas menu! I'm very curious!

And now, back to my books! Thank you exams in January :(


Love,
Sofie

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Eating healthy & the environment - On my mind ...



If it were up to me, I ate healthy every day, without any difficulty. Seriously, I enjoy healthy food way more than sweets, soda, cookies, burgers, ... you name it. Healthy food makes me feel good, makes me happy and it tastes amazing! And from experience I know that many people don't think that's normal. They say that I am too hard on myself and that I'm not enjoying my life the way I should (read: the way THEY think I should). Usually the idea also comes that I eat healthy because they think I feel too fat and want to lose weight. Many times I tried to explain that that really is NOT the reason ... but I can assure you, no one will ever believe that and you get nothing but strange looks. Oh well ...

I think people can get really frustrated seeing you eating healthy food so easily and most of all seeing you enjoying it. This results in them asking you: "Is it tasty? Are you enjoying that?", "Have you got enough with that?" or, the worst "Eek, what's that? That looks groce!" when you are eating an avocado. Maybe you never get these reactions I'm getting, but I live in a student house with lots of farmers (farmer students) and all they can think of is meat and traditional food. Sigh

Sometimes people make me feel that eating healthy is a sin. It feels like I always have to justify why I eat something. There are students here who eat pizza and spaghetti (ready made sauce from a jar, bleh!) every single day - like every.single.day - and no one says anything about that. Because eating pizza and spaghetti every day is normal, right?

So if someone would ask me if I think that eating healthy is difficult, then I will say yes. But only because other people are trying to stop you from eating healthy. I really think that that is the hardest part of trying to live a more healthy life, the criticism of others. I don't understand why they won't just let you eat and do what you want and stop judging, because you don't judge their way of living either, or do you? There is nothing wrong with eating healthy and taking care of yourself if this is what truly makes you feel good.



I find it sometimes really difficult to stand up for what I believe in. But from this moment on, I won't eat "crap" anymore, just to please others, if I don't want to. Yes, I am definitely that kind of person (ehem, pathetic). A wise lesson to myself: "Be yourself, love yourself, and start acting like it."

Is anyone else experiencing the same as me? Vegetarians, vegans? How do you deal with that? 

Your experiences would mean the world to me, knowing that I'm not the only one! Thank you very much for reading!


Love,
Sofie

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Oatmeal series: Baked oatmeal & figs!



I told you in my last Cheerful Sunday post that I had made THE BEST BREAKFAST EVER last week! So ... here it is! I proudly present: Baked oatmeal with pear and figs!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ingredients:
(serves one, maybe two - but I was very hungry)

50 g oats
200 ml almond milk
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of chia seeds
a handful of raisins
a handful of pecans
2 fresh figs
1 ripe pear
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Mix the oats with cinnamon, chia seeds and almond milk in a large bowl. Cut the pear in cubes and the figs in slices. Add all ingredients to the oats, but save some pecans and figs for the topping (yum, roasted pecans!). Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish and garnish with remaining figs and nuts. Pop into the oven and bake your oatmeal for about 25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.



Oh my goodness, that smell! It was hard to wait 25 minutes for this heavenly breakfast. I had never eaten fresh figs before, but now I'm definitely sold!

All credits for this amazing recipe go to Lieke from 'Train mean, eat clean'. I slightly adapted the recipe, but the whole idea comes from her. Lieke's blog is truly amazing and full of inspiration, and she's only 14!



Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum ...

Have you ever tried baked oatmeal? Do you like fresh figs?


Love,
Sofie

Friday, 6 December 2013

Coconut Granola bar



The fact that I'm nuts about nuts, is no secret. Making Granola bars is therefore for a very long time on my to-do list. Last Sunday, it was le moment suprême. And for making my first ever granola bar, I used a very special ingredient: fresh coconut. But you can either make it using shredded coconut! No worries :)

My grandmother had won a fruit basket in some tombola (or raffle or lottery, however you'd like to call it). And for some reason, they had put a fresh coconut in the basket. Seriously, who does that? The tombola was organised by a retirees association. Which ancient man or woman is able or willing to open a coconut? I can tell you, you really have to use some violence to get that thing open!

First push a metallic skewer through 2 eyes (1 is soft, the other 2 are a bit harder to get through) and let the water out.
Then I tried cleaving the nut by firmingly tapping on its equator, but that didn't work. So a hammer, violence and help from my dad it was.
Once the meat is out of the outer shell, you only need to peel off the inner husk.


Anyway, my grandmother gave me the coconut and I was as happy as can be. I had never tasted a fresh coconut before and was very excited to try it out. And did you know that coconuts are very good for you? You can read all about it in my previous post!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ingredients (12 bars):

1 cup oats
the meat of 1 fresh coconut (in little cubes) or 1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup of almonds (coarsely chopped)
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Line a pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, flour, flax seeds, chopped almonds and salt and mix very thoroughly until combined. In a small bowl, combine honey and coconut oil and pop in the oven on low heat, interim stirring, until the coconut oil is melted. Stir vanilla extract into the coconut oil mixture. Then pour the entire mixture over the dry ingredients.

Using a spoon, stir until all of the ingredients are wet. Press the dough into the pan, pressing with the back of the spoon to smooth the top. Place in the refrigerator for at least 90 minutes, then remove and cut into squares.



Attack immediately or keep covered in the fridge for later consumption.

All credits go to Jessica from 'How sweet it is' for this amazing recipe! Her pictures are a thousand times better than mine. Ehem, I still have a lot to learn!

Do you like granola bars? Have you ever eaten fresh coconut?


Love,
Sofie

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Coconut oil: Health in a jar

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This is probably going to be a very long post, simply because there's just so much to know about coconut oil. And because this oil is so good for you, I just want to tell everything. So make yourself a cup of tea, get yourself comfortable (where are those blankets!) and get to know one of the most healthy food products of nature...

I've been using coconut oil for about 7 years now, mostly for cooking and on my bread. Very occasionally I use it on my skin - on a burned skin in summer or on very dry skin in winter. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer (in 2002 and a relapse in 2006), we started reading a lot about food and health and we slowly started changing our entire lifestyle. We became more aware of what we ate and so we also gradually switched over to organic food. In our quest for a healthier lifestyle, we discovered the power of coconut oil.

In my education as dietician, coconut oil was always labeled negatively because of its high value in saturated fatty acids (which they say are very bad for your cholesterol) what made me very sad and angry inside. This was one of the reasons why I suddenly didn't want to be a dietician anymore. Anyway, stubborn as I was and convinced of its health-promoting qualities, I kept on eating my coconut oil. Muahaha!


So let me tell you everything about this healthy gift of nature. Starthing with the Chinese part. Yes ma'am, be ready for some complicated names and terms...


Composition of coconut oil

Like I said, more than 90% of coconut oil consists of saturated fats (don't panic yet!), along with traces of few unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Most of the saturated fatty acids are medium chain triglycerides, which are supposed to assimilate well in the body's system. Lauric acid is the main contributor, representing more than 40% of the total, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are present as linoleic acid, monounsaturated fatty acids as oleic acid. Whoosh, what a mouthful!

Besides that, coconut contains polyphenols like phenolic acid. These polyphenols are responsible for the fragrance and the taste of coconut oil. And also vitamin Evitamin K and minerals such as iron.


Lauric acid beats the little creatures!
The health benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid (all saturated fatty acids), and their respective properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities.

The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which is supposedly helpful in dealing with viruses and bacteria that cause diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It also helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes and Heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as Giardia lamblia. Yep, they all have beautiful names, don't they? Eeek Monsters!


Health benefits of coconut oil

Hair

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Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrients for your hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair and gives your hair a shiny quality. It is also highly effective in reducing protein loss and so gives you strong hair.

This I found very interesting: "In India, people apply coconut oil on the hair every day after bathing or showering. It is an excellent conditioner and helps the re-growth process of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing and healing damaged hair." I need to start using coconut oil on my hair! But I think I might do it before I take a shower, not after...

By regularly massaging your head with coconut oil, you can ensure that your scalp is free of dandruff, even if your scalp is chronically dry.


Heart diseases

Source


Because of the high amount in saturated fatty acids, there is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for heart health. In reality, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as you commonly find in vegetable oils.


Skin care
Coconut oil is an excellent massage oil for the skin. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Fortunately, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin from the application of coconut oil. Besides that, coconut oil also delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging of skin. How interesting is that!


Weight loss


Source


Coconut oil is very useful for weight loss. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the endocrine system. Coconut oil also increases the body's metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy.


Immunity
Coconut oil strengthens the immune system because it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. 


Digestion

Source


Internal functions of coconut oil occur primarily due to it being used as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps to improve the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion-related problems. It also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.


Alright, I think that I've now told you the most interesting part of the story. I hope this post helped you in some way and has convinced you of the health benefits of coconut oil. If you want to know more, then go to this website. The article - which I also used for writing this post - containts all the information you need to know about coconut oil!

Did you know all this health benefits about coconut oil? Have you ever used coconut oil? Are you going to?


Love,
Sofie