Tag Archives: eating healthy

changing the way you eat – step by step

Many of you mentioned your interest in a post on my recipe book and how J and I try to change our eating habits. Here it is!
How to change your eating habits. Make your own recipe book. little home by hand blog
How do you approach a change in your eating habits? It comes down to education, motivation and planning.

I educated myself by taking a day off work to do research on what certain foods do to the body to understand why they are harmful.
Motivation comes in lots of forms. For me it’s often an inspiring blog post, a ted talk or a movie. I recently watched the documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and highly recommend it (it’s on Netflix but you can find it on Youtube too).

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

What I struggled with when I already knew what I should be doing and very much wanted to be doing it was how to actually approach it and incorporate a healthy eating routine into daily life. I needed a plan.

Here’s where the recipe book comes in. I had a Pinterest board chock full of recipes and several cook books I never opened – I needed something else.
So I sat down (once again) to a day of serious work and compiled a list of recipes that met the following criteria:

  • Easy to prepare: no hours of slaving in the kitchen, ideally a recipe with very few steps in preparation
  • Few ingredients: I wanted to make shopping easier and have recipes that didn’t call for exotic ingredients that needed to be specially bought only to get shoved to the back of a cupboard and forgotten afterwards
  • Healthy: based on my research this means a meal from scratch including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain spelt flour instead of white flour, healthy grains like quinoa or millet and of course sugar free
  • Seasonal: whenever possible I want to cook in keeping with the seasons using regional produce

I chose both recipes we already knew and liked and new recipes that fit the criteria and which Iย  wanted to try out.

How to change your eating habits. Make your own recipe book. little home by hand blog

Divided into categories (Veggies, salads, meat, fish, pasta, soup and so on) each section only has about five recipes in it to prevent us getting overwhelmed by choices. Each recipe got its own page (I did it in PowerPoint but you can make a word document as well, whatever you like working with) with the same format andย  a picture (because I’m a perfectionist at heart). Our very own recipe book got printed onto cardboard paper and filed away neatly in a folder. We have a mix of german and english language recipes in there (not that much of a perfectionist after all).

Every week before grocery shopping we pull out the book, pick a recipe for each day we need to cook dinner (we usually eat at work during the week so we cook a maximum of three meals – Friday, Saturday, Sunday – each week) and make a shopping list. Having a plan and having all ingredients at hand motivates us to actually cook the recipes and that simple routine forces us to “go through with it”.

So far we’ve added several easy recipes to our repertoire and feel much more empowered and able to cook and eat well. Something we make almost weekly now is a simple dish of oven roasted veggies (usually zucchini, fennel and peppers). I also love this Mexican quinoa pan and this kale quinoa bowl – soo good.

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

Now, why are there pictures of green smoothies all over this post? For one, pictures of just the recipe book would bore you out of your mind (and since most of the photos in there aren’t mine I can’t show them on here anyway).

The much more important reason is that in the last three weeks I have drastically changed my eating habits yet again. It’s all the fault of Joe Cross and his documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”. I’ve wanted to try green smoothies for a long time and the documentary was the last, determined shove in the right direction.

I am now making a green smoothie every day before work and drink it for breakfast. It tastes suprisingly awesome! Contrary to what I expected I have actually come to crave it each morning – obviously my body’s way of saying ‘give it here, I need it’. I do harbor a small hope that it will help with my back pain too – we’ll see.

Note that I am not doing a reboot or trying to lose weight, I do it solely for health purposes and eat a normal lunch (usually a small plate of warm food and a large salad at work).

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

Recipe? Sure!

Makes about 1 litre (4 cups):

  • 2 cups greens (kale, spinach, salad greens, lamb’s lettuce…)
  • 2 cups water or milk (I use oat milk which is really yummy)
  • 3 cups fruits and berries (I’ve tried apples, bananas, pears, oranges and blueberries so far)
  • Optional: a small teaspoon of pure almond butter and a tablespoon of linseed oil (I add both)

Blend well and drink fresh within a day or two. I use the blender on my ancient food processor and it works just fine. You really don’t need fancy new equipment!

Fruits and greens I buy at an organic farm once a week and freeze portions of greens for the week. That way it only takes me a few minutes every morning to prepare the smoothie and it’s always fresh and slightly chilled. You could also prepare and freeze all ingredients beforehand! With spring upon us and gardening on my mind I am already looking forward to growing my own greens instead of buying them this summer!

It takes me quite a while to drink the smoothie so I usually take it to work in my beloved Equa bottle (nope, not getting paid to mention it, but hey Equa if you want to send free bottles my way feel free ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). We also got a water filter recently so we’ll not ever buy bottled water again. Saving the world one bottle at a time and all that.

Have you tried green smoothies yourself? What are your experiences and recommendations? Have your own recipe books and want to recommend an easy, healthy recipe? Let me know!

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healthy eating – the research

We all strive to eat healthy, right? It’s good for us. The problem is that it is such a vague concept. You feel like you don’t really know where to start, what is healthy and what is not and why is healthy food good for us while pizza is not?
I’ve been planning to “eat better” for years without much success. So I decided to really tackle this as a project late last year and just get down to it and do my research.
I took a day off to cram as much research about food and eating in it as I possibly could and hopefully end up with a plan. The good news is, I did and it was not even that hard! I’m going to share with you what I found out and what I changed in my diet.
This is my personal experience. This isn’t going to be a book and I’m not an expert so I strongly encourage you to do your own research since I will try to keep this short and sweet ๐Ÿ˜‰
healthy eating, a plan.
The first thing I found out is that there literally is no general definition of healthy eating. What is good and healthy for a person is a very individual thing. There are government issued guidelines but they change and evolve over time.
There are so many different ideas and diets out there and they all tell us they are the one way to eat to be healthy. Vegan, paleo, Atkins…just to name a few and there are so many more. I got very confused.
Whenever I get confused I try to structure my information. I made a chart and jotted down which foods all (or almost all) sources agreed were healthy or not healthy and which foods seemed to be controversial. This is my list:
—————————————————————————-
GOOD:
Vegetables, fruit, water, herbs, roots, nuts, good fats and oils, fish, meat (if organic and consumed in moderation). Eating as much food raw as possible.

CONTROVERSIAL:
Grain, dairy products, legumes, eggs, coffein, alcohol. Cooking foods.

BAD:
Sugar in any form, additives, bad fats and oils
—————————————————————————-

That seems a lot more manageable, right?
healthy eating, a plan.
I did want to know why some products were bad or highly controversial, such as grains and sugar and certain fats. Here’s where again I strongly encourage you to do your own research (share your sources in the comments!) since I did most of my research on german language sites and will be keeping this very short. If you would like my list of german language sources let me know.

SUGAR
Sugar is present naturally in lots of sources, especially as fructose (fruit sugar). When we eat an apple it contains sugar, but this sugar is attached to lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The body can really get to work breaking those down and using them, releasing the contained sugar slowly. Our blood sugar level rises slowly, inducing the gradual release of insulin to transport that sugar to our cells to be used as energy.
When we eat refined sugar (pure sugar which is not attached to anything valuable like fiber) we’re basically flooding our body with so much sugar that it can’t really deal with it all. Our blood sugar level soares way too quickly and lots of insulin is produced which results in a blood sugar level crash again. We are really throwing our body processes off balance continually.
Eating lots of refined sugar can thus lead to permanently confused insulin processes and in turn, diabetes. As I said, I’m keeping this veeerry simple.
What is more, tumor cells love sugar. Empirical research suggests that consuming sugar in the way we do in the western world dramatically incresases cancer rates. Animal research suggests that sugar is also responsible for a range of other negative effects.

GRAINS
Grains are controversial. Whole grain flours contain fiber, minerals, vitamins, micronutrients and unsaturated fats. White flour however has lost most of these nutrients, so what remains are empty carbohydrates which in turn are absorbed way too quickly by our bodies and make our blood sugar levels soar too quickly and unnaturally (see sugar). The starch and gluten get sticky and acidic when digested and can cause problems with the digestion for some people from bloating to serious bowel inflammation.
Some sources also mention that all the good stuff even in whole grain flours and products can be found in greater quantities in fruit and vegetables and advise to quit grains altogether.

FATS
I won’t go into this in great biological detail but fats and oils are not all bad. The right ones help us absorb vitamins, protect our organs and even help our blood flow better. Good for us are unsaturated fats and oils, such as walnut, rape seed, soy and linseed oil. Some are better used cold (like olive oil) because heat damages their good properties. Rape seed oil is recommended for cooking as it can stand the heat better.
Saturated fats are present in animal products like butter and cream. They are usually solid at room temperature and should only be consumed in moderation as they bump up our blood cholesterol levels. Industrial food products such as chips should be avoided completely because the hardened fats in them are much worse than other saturated fats like butter.

That doesn’t sound so hard at all does it? After my day of research the picture has grown a lot clearer and while I will probably never understand the biological intricacies in detail, the general direction is clear.
The boyfriend was impressed by this compilation as well and we have made an effort to incorporate these findings in our daily eating habits for the last few weeks. As this post is already very long, there’ll be another one one detailing what simple changes we have made and how it has affected us.
I hope to also share some recipes and tipps for healthy eating with you throughout the year. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section, I’d love to know what you think of this and if you struggle with eating better too!

cooking class with dana – part 1

Like I mentioned in this post my friend Dana is teaching my boyfriend and me a monthly cooking class in an attempt to get us to cook and eat healthier.
Last weekend was our first class and it was very yummy and fun and we learned some stuff that we can definitely try again on our own. We’re also learning to cook with as few dairy products as possible, since I have just found out that I have a lactose intolerance problem (sniff, I do love fresh milk so).

We prepared a whole 3 course meal and had lots of fun in the crowded kitchen. Please excuse the terrible lighting, it was pitch black out by the time we ate.

For starters we had cucumber salad with roasted buttery bread (hey, nobody said anything about fat-free, on with the butter!).

Next came these turkey involtini with cheese and ham and a fresh summer salad and sesame rolls.


And last but not least these cream puffs with fresh homemade blueberry sauce. It was my first time making choux pastry (what a weird dough) but they came out so good!

I do hope that a couple more of these classes and by the end of the winter we’ll have learned to eat fresher and healthier and do more cooking ourselves.
Any recipe requests?