Sunday, September 07, 2014

Back to Uni

I know it has been a while, three weeks to be exact! Sometimes life just becomes hectic and you have to set some priorities. In these three weeks, I've visited a friend in Düsseldorf, Germany, for a couple of days. I've had a cold for about 1,5 weeks and have just had the first week of being back to university. Being away for a couple of days, being ill and the stress that comes from uni made me less able to focus on my healthy eating and sporting. I've been longing to get running again, but with a sore throat that is not really the best option out there.. But today, I have sort of a day off, to just focus on myself, get relaxing, eat healthy and go for a run now that the sun is out from time to time! :)
University of Groningen, Academy building
I would like to ramble a bit about university, being a student, especially here in the Netherlands, and the pressure that we're constant on. So, here I am, having been part of student life for over 5 years already. And I can tell you, it hasn't always been easy. I don't know what its like elsewhere, but here in the Netherlands there is quite a lot of pressure on students to not only have good grades, but also work on your resume outside of university. Think about doing committees, maybe even become a board member (or preferably Chairman) at your student association or sports club, being active in sports, or "simply" working next to studying is all very important if you want to get a job in my field (business/economics).

Oh and I forgot to mention having experiences living abroad is also a very big plus. Not only is it mandatory to live in a foreign country for half a year in most internationally oriented studies, it would be even better if you've also traveled around and have seen different cultures. Now for me, this is not really that much of a downside, I love travelling, seeing different cultures, experiencing how it is to life somewhere else, but I can imagine that some people do not really want to leave.
Reading loads of articles :)
 And now, here I am, being back from a year off, back to university. I've just started 2 (!) masters, another thing that has become increasingly popular, in the beginning of September. The next two months are going to be the hardest (I think...) of them all, having 4 courses, studying around 70 hours a week. And also here I find myself, applying for a conference of a study association, thinking about doing a committee on another. Maybe getting back into tennis? Or would running and yoga be enough for the moment? I guess I just still have too much energy from just starting this new exciting phase in my academical career to not think properly... But on the other side, needing to look for an internship to write my theses at is just around the corner, and than I need to find a job.. Do I have the right resume? Am I interesting for companies? I guess only time will tell!
Downside: needing to study when the weather is beautiful.
Right now I was so jealous of all the people sitting in the sun!
Sorry, I just needed to get this off my chest in my small personal space on the internet. I am still very grateful for being able to study! Next time, I'll focus a bit more on health and sports again! Or would you like to see some pictures and tips on Düsseldorf?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Food Diary #1

As I love Instagram so much, I make a lot of pictures from my meals. I thought it would be nice to share them with you. This will also help me keep on track and keep bad food out of my kitchen cupboards! Here is my food diary of the past week.

Sunday 10th of August
I found some lovely blueberries on sale at the supermarket, so I grabbed them and combined them with yogurt, muesli, cocos fibers and cacao nibs for breakfast, yumm! For lunch I had a quinoa salad mixed with some spring onions, kidney beans and cherry tomatoes.

A few months ago I had a courgette pasta dish, and loved it so much that I wanted to make it myself as well. I never had a julienne peeler, but recently found one. Tonight was the night to try it out, and it works so well! I combined the courgette pasta(or courgetti as some call it) with some pesto, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. As dessert I had an apple (pink lady's are my fav!) and a banana.

Monday 11th of August
Today was a bit boring in food terms. I had leftovers from the day before, so its basically the same all over again. At least this way I know that I will eat healthy as it saves me time cooking. Don't get me wrong, I love cooking, but sometimes if I'm really hungry I tend to grab something quick over cooking something healthy.

I changed my breakfast a little this morning and combined the blueberries with cacao nibs, goji berries and yogurt. As lunch I had a little of the leftover pasta of yesterday, and made up the plate nicely with some basil leaves. For dinner I had the quinoa salad I had for lunch yesterday. As an afternoon snack I had some raisins and crackers (they have Italian herbs and sea salt in/on them).

Tuesday 12th of August
I started off the morning by trying something new. Rice crackers with salmon and avocado, it was great! Totally love this breakfast! For lunch I had a salad of paprika, cucumber, tomatoes, a bit of avocado and some salmon. I topped it off with some basil leaves, just for picture purposes of course!

In the evening, I had dinner with a friend. She made a chicken burger, some salad (lettuce, tomatoes, paprika and cucumber) and cooked some potatoes. Lovely and pretty healthy! After dinner, we went to the city center to listen to some music. This week there was a welcoming week for new students, which means lots of parties and activities in the city center. As I'm already being a student for 5 years now, I feel pretty old between all of those newbies! We had a beer there, and after a cup of tea at home.

Wednesday 13th of August
Sorry, I forgot to make a picture of my breakfast! It was again rice crackers, but this time only with some salmon. For lunch I had a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, paprika, cucumber and made some chicken to go with it. In the afternoon I had a bit of chocolate, because otherwise I would not eat enough calories today... I love this one as it has 78% cocoa, is fair trade and produced carbon neutral! Apart from that, cocoa has a lot of beneficial antioxidants. It helps against aging, stress, improve blood pressure and possibly even lower cholesterol. This all makes it even more yummie!

For dinner I had again chicken (leftover from lunch), some salad and made some fries from sweet potato. It was pretty weird that the potato was not orange inside, but still tasted lovely whatsoever.  I used coconut oil to bake the chicken and sweet potato fries. Definitely going to eat more sweet potato, they are absolutely delish!

Thursday 14th of August
In the morning I had a bowl of yogurt, and threw in some blueberries and strawberries which were still in the fridge, and topped it of with some delish cacao nibs! For lunch I made these buckwheat pancakes (10 in total! also for the upcoming days) and added some summer fruits on top with some cinnamon, to prevent my blood sugar levels from peaking to much.

In the evening I felt a bit oriental. I still had these shrimps in the fridge, so decided to cook some rice noodles to go with them. I heated up some coconut oil and threw sugar snaps, bean sprouts, spring onions, a normal onion and a egg in there. As a sauce I squeezed a lime and added some soy sauce. Lovely and very filling dinner!

Friday 15th of August
In the morning I went for a run, and tried out my new hemp protein afterwards (mixed it up with almond milk and gave it a little shake). That was about it for breakfast... I know, I should have eaten more, but I just wasn't so hungry! For lunch I ate pancakes again! This time with strawberries and blueberries (and again cinnamon!), aren't those fruits just to die for? They taste soo GOOD! For dinner I still had sugar snaps and bean sprouts left of the day before. So again (very boring I know!) I cooked some rice noodles and added the veggies to it. Mixed it up today by topping it off with some peanuts instead of shrimps.

My housemate and very good friend bought me this mug for my birthday! Isn't it great? Its pretty, and a lot of tea fits in there, perfect for cold winter days, or just have a nice cuppa tea while writing blog posts. I recently discovered Clipper tea, a friend of mine had it, and when I saw it on discount I needed to grab some! I bought white tea with a vanilla flavor, and white tea with a orange flavor. They are both great! Recently have been looking into all the additives into our food and consumption articles, and the best about this tea is that the teabags are not bleached (good for the environment!). Apart from that, the tea is also organically grown, YEY!

Saturday 16th of August
There were still a few buckwheat pancakes left, so treated myself to a nice breakfast. Again with the strawberries and blueberries! Even though it wasn't my cheat day, I bought a nice small bread, took the white stuff from the inside out (never like that, it always gets so sticky, yuk!) and filled it with some goat cheese, walnuts and honey. Put it into the oven for a little while to let the cheese melt, then added some lettuce and voila! Lunch is served! :)

For dinner I made a bed of lettuce, cut up a pear, added the rest of my goat cheese, walnuts and honey (inspired by @foodsyou from instagram!). Oh my, this was lovely, and so very filling! In the evening I watched CSI with my housemate and ate some lovely chocolate.

Just realized that I didn't eat a lot of fruit as snacks last week, so I need to pay some attention to that :) I hope you liked this sneak peak into my eating life! If you want to have a recipe of something, please let me know! Any suggestions for healthy and delish meals are also very welcome!

Monday, August 11, 2014

My favorite health & sport apps

Eating healthy, sporting, losing weight and obtaining my perfect body has always been a struggle for me since my teen years. About two months ago I've started a new attempt at all of the above. I've had my ups and downs, but there have definitely been some apps that have helped me keep track, remain or regain my focus and getting me healthier and "sportyish". Currently I've lost 2,5 kg and still have another 9,5 kg to go.

My Fitness Pal (free)
The first app I want to talk about is My Fitness Pal. This friend keeps track of what I eat, how many calories I consume, but also the amounts of carbs, protein and fat. Furthermore, it logs my activities and shows my weight loss progress.
On Sunday, I had yogurt, muesli, cacao nibs, blueberries, cocos and chia seeds for breakfast. On the right it shows the nutrient details of the day, it shows that I ate 60 grams of fat, 174 grams of carbs (chocolate!) and "only" 42 grams of protein (no meats, only yogurt today). Below it shows in a nice pie chart what the percentages are. Preferably I want to kick up the protein a little and slow down on carbs. I'm thinking about adding some protein shakes to my diet to use after workouts, any suggestions? Furthermore, below you can also see the progress I've made with my weight loss. It has been going up and down a little, but I think that's quite normal (ok, honestly, maybe not shocks of 2 kilo's, but hey, sometimes it's hard to keep the focus!), and I'm well on track now! 
The only downside is the advertisements on the bottom, they just make the app a little less sophisticated. I've been using the app for so long right now that they do not bother me anymore, but without them the app would be even better!

Daily Yoga (free, but can go "pro")
Starting to do yoga has a little story to it. While away travelling a few months ago on Bali, I felt a bit lonely and decided I needed to try out something new. A friend of mine told me about this great Yoga place in Ubud called the Yogabarn. She was totally right! The feeling of being surrounded by happy and genuine people was great, especially as it is located next to this awesome vegan raw food thingy. Good healthy food and a great atmosphere was just what I needed at the time. This made me hooked on Yoga and wanting to do it at home. 
Unfortunately, the Yoga place in my town which I want to visit has a summer break, but luckily this great app exists so I can still get my daily (or every other day) yoga fix! They have a lot of different types of training; if you want to work on your abs you can go for the Daily Yoga for Abs, but there is also a beginner one, or you can focus on meditation, breathing, back or body toning (among others). You can also "go pro" to access more exclusive materials, but as a beginner I'm more than satisfied with the current free options. 
There are also different programs you can follow according to what you are trying to achieve/work on at the moment. Furthermore, during every training session you can opt for the type of training you want; beginner, intermediate or advanced. The exercises are shown in video format and accompanied with an Asian lady telling you what to do. The supporting music is relaxing and great for Yoga. Only downside is again the adds that sometimes show up after a training session.

Runkeeper (free)
I assume most of you already know this app, but I still want to give it some love in this article. How hard is it to estimate how many calories you've burned or the distance traveled when going for a walk or run? Luckily this app is so smart (and there is GPS!) that it can tell you! I've mainly used it for walks as my mobile is rather large and does not fit into the pocket of my jogging pants unfortunately... 
Above a few of the walks I've made. I am especially proud of the one made on the 15th of July. My mum and I did a hike in a national park in Spain (Parque Natural Sierras de Tejeda, the Botanical route). There was a height difference of 460 meters during the whole route, and it was pretty tough, but we made it! The ones of the 24th and 29th were just shopping trips with a friend, so not really a serious walk, I was just interested in the distance covered. The app also offers programs to improve your running, getting fit or losing weight. I've not followed any of these yet, so don't know if they're any good.

Instagram (free)
I know, its odd to have Instagram in the list of my favorite health & sport apps, but the truth is that this app really keeps me motivated to eat healthy and go sporting. There are so many pictures of delicious and healthy
food on there that my what-to-eat inspiration just keeps flowing! Seeing the workout pictures and the progress made also keeps me motivated to get of the couch and get moving! I'm getting a little bit addicted to posting my meals on there, which is also some sort of motivation as I know that some of you are watching me and I need to keep making the right choices (except for the occasional treat).
If interested, my instagram is @workthathealth.

Blogilates (free, but $1 if you want to use the schedules)
I've been following Cassey from Blogilates for a couple of years now, and was totally excited when she brought out the app! The app is especially helpful when you want to follow the schedules. There is a schedule for beginners, and a normal monthly changing schedule.
Blogilates is basically all about Pilates, the video's that Cassey makes are a great workout. At least, they get me totally sweaty and proud of myself once I've finished them, and I assure you there is some muscle ache the next day! I'm not in really good shape, but these video's really help me out a lot, especially when you don't have a gym membership. The schedules can also be found on her blog for free ( from where you can print them, in case you don't want to spend any money. If you are just targeting specific area's of the body, you can easily look up video's that will help you out.
She is so enthusiastic about what she is doing that it really keeps you going! She also made some healthy recipes that are also to be found on her blog or with the app (or on youtube).

So, these where the apps that help me keep on track and obtain my goal of losing weight and becoming fit. Let me know what you think of them, and if you have any suggestions, please let me know! I'm always willing to try out new ones.

Have a great week and see you next time!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Happy birthday to me!

I'm getting old...  Really! I can now officially call myself a 24-year old "woman", even though I sometimes still feel like a little girl. I like celebrating my birthday with family; getting together, eating cake and chatting about life and what everybody is up to. This year it was no different!

My birthday was on a Monday, but I've already celebrated on Sunday with my dad, his girlfriend and their cats! As a surprise we went to visit the Apenheul, where they have lots of monkeys running around. I've made some one-bite chocolate delightfulness to indulge on, together with some vegetarian pies,  see the recipies below.
My niece was born on the 3rd of August. This year we decided to celebrate our birthdays together. On Monday, my mum had her first working day at her new job. This meant I was home-alone for the most of the day, so me and my niece spent it cooking and baking. We did some grocery shopping first and in the afternoon we made our birthday cake, the recipe is also at the bottom, as are the messy making-the-cake pictures!

In the evening, the family of my mum's side came for the birthday visit. We first enjoyed some lemon tart together with coffee or tea. Afterwards, most of us had a glass of wine accompanied with some quiches and other snacks.
This was my Sunday outfit. The jeans are from Esprit, I absolutely love that they are off-white, which makes me look a bit skinnier and it is more sophisticated than in bright white. The top is from Zara which I bought a few years ago in Spain.
As a birthday girl, you of course also have to dress up a little bit. On Monday I wore this lovely dress which I bought a few years ago already but keep for more special occasions.

And now on to the jummy jummy goodness!

One-bite chocolate&raspberry delightfulness
What you'll need for around 12 :
  • 50 grams of dates (around 5)
  • 50 grams of dried cranberries
  • 50 grams of almonds
  • 30 grams of pure chocolate / chocolate sauce
  • 10 grams of cocoa powder (around 2 tablespoons)
  • 12 raspberries 
Melt the pure chocolate au bain-marie* which will act like glue for the raspberries, or you could also use "ready-to-go" chocolate sauce. Put all other ingredients, except the chocolate and raspberries, in a food processor and mix them all up until the large chunks are gone and it forms some kind of dough (see right bottom). Next, make small balls out of the dough of approx 10 grams each. Press them down a little so they become flatter. With a spoon, put a bit of the chocolate sauce in the middle and put the raspberry on top.
Thats it! Simple, right?

*put a large pan of water on the fire, put a smaller pan on top with the chocolate in it, and wait till it melts

Lemon Tart
Ingredients for the crust (gluten-free):

  • 200 grams of mixed nuts (ours included almonds and cashews)
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 55 grams of buckwheat flour
  • 10 dates
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon

Ingredients for the custard filling (sugar-free):

  • 75 grams of butter
  • 325 ml of milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 tbsp of honey
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp of corn starch

For the crust: put the nuts and dates in a blender and blend until the large chunks are gone. Add in the butter, cinnamon and buckwheat flour and blend until the dough comes together. Coat the bottom of a 9" tart pan with butter and distribute the pastry evenly on the bottom and sides. Set aside while you make the custard.
For the custard: Heat the butter, milk and vanilla pod in a pan on medium heat until the butter has melted. Add in the lemon juice (and zest) and honey. Bring to a boil while stirring, then lower the temperature and let it simmer for around five minutes. Remove the vanilla pod and set the mixture aside to cool. Whisk the egg yolks, the egg and corn starch with a mixer in a large bowl for a couple of minutes, then put the two mixtures together while whisking. Pour the custard on top of the crust and bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes.

Spinach and Feta pies
As a small snack to go with the wine, we decided to make some pies. For this you will need a muffin form. The ingredients needed for 12 pies:

  • 12 puff pastry sheets (or as much as you need to "dress" the exterior walls of the muffin form)
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 225 grams of baby spinach
  • 150 ml of whipping cream 
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 125 grams of feta
  • 25 grams of pine nuts
  • salt and pepper
Firstly, cut out circles in the puff pastry sheets that will cover the muffin forms, we used a glass to outline the shape. Next, put the puff pastry in the muffin form and sprinkle some of the feta on the bottom. Heat up the butter in a pan and add the baby spinach. Let it simmer for a while until most of the moist is gone (see picture). Cut the spinach into smaller pieces. Mix together the whipping cream and the egg yolks, and add the spinach. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the mixture, and fill the muffin forms with the mixture. Put the forms in the oven (200°C) for about 15 minutes, then distribute the pine nuts over the top and bake off for another 5 minutes.

Salmon pies
Ingredients for 12 small pies:

  • 12 puff pastry sheets (or as much as you need to "dress" the exterior walls of the muffin form)
  • 150 grams of smoked salmon
  • 100 grams of fresh cheese (quark)
  • 50 grams of crème fraiche
  • 1 egg
  • 30 ml of milk
  • Italian herbs
  • dill
  • Just as above, cut out circles in the puff pastry sheets that will cover the muffin form, we used a glass to outline the shape, and put the puff pastry in the muffin forms. Cut the salmon into small pieces and put them on the bottom of the muffin forms. Whisk the fresh cheese, crème fraiche, milk, egg and herbs together in a mixing bowl. Add the mixture to the muffin forms and put them in the oven (200°C) for about 20 minutes.

    I hope you enjoyed looking at our cooking experience and a sneak-peek into my life. If you decide to try out one of the recipes, let me know and send me a picture!