FOOD

Antwerp, the healthy guide

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Cooking your own meals is all well and good but sometimes you just want to go somewhere, order something nice from the menu and enjoy someone else doing all the hard work.  Antwerp has a lot of interesting restaurants offering healthy plant based food that are high on flavour.  Subscribe to our newsletter for a free map you can download to your computer, phone or any other device and read on for our top 5 favourite places below.

1. Have a plant based dinner at Simone's Kitchen

We recently discovered this place which serves a new fixed menu every week.  Dishes are plant based and can be vegetarian or vegan.  Keep an eye out for their famous chocolate mousse tart with marzipan. Oh and they have a beautiful garden to eat in...

Simone's kitchen

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2. A HEALTHY BREAKFAST SHAKSHUKA AT MURNIFOOD

We love this place whose food so reminds us of our favourite place in London (Ottolenghi).  Owner Elke and her husband Zury cook gluten and lactose free and always have vegetarian and vegan options.  If you are expecting bland food you'll be surprised: there are many flavours from Israeli to Nepalese, Thai and Sri Lankan food.

Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish where eggs are cooked into tomato sauce. Bliss!

Murnifood

3.enjoy the flavours at camino 

The smoked eggplant with ponzu and sesame are amazing, so are the Korean mussels, and so is everything else....  Don't forget to book as this place is packed during the weekend!

Camino

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4. seasonal vegetables at extra fika

This simple place offers fresh, seasonal vegetables with local origin. 

Their sunday brunches are amazing. In summer, they occasionally move to summer bar Kamyon so check their website first.

Extra Fika

5.sunday brunch at het bos

A little off the beaten path, the two women making up the Otark food collective cook the most amazing brunch at het bos on sundays (not during the holidays check the website to make sure it is on).  Expect home made yummy dishes such as flatbread with wildflower honey, labne and walnuts, kimchi pancakes or white almond gazpacho.

Otark

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6. have a gin and tonic at wild project

We could tell you all about the amazing food like sweet potato fritters and spicy warm hummus with home made seeds crackers or socca with spring veggies, Japanese parsley and cashew lime sour cream. But really there is only one thing you need to know: the owners are so obsessed with plants and all things organic they make their own tonic. Enough said.... 

Wild project

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Instant noodle pot lunch

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In winter I am always looking for easy lunch recipes that are high on vegetables, easy to make and substantial.  Meet the 'instant noodle': throw some leftovers in a glass container and add some courgette noodles.  At lunch, just add hot water and enjoy a warming meal.   

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serves 2

 

instructions

1 courgette, spiralised
1 handful baby spinach, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
salmon, cooked
1 spring onion, sliced
curry paste
1 red chili, sliced

 
  1. Layer all the ingredients in a heatproof container starting with the curry paste and building up.

  2. When you are ready to eat: fill the container with boiling water, leave for 5 minutes, enjoy!

notes

  • Use whatever you have left from dinner. Good combinations are: 2 vegetables, a protein (salmon, chicken...) and some curry paste or miso

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FIVE WAYS TO HALVE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE TODAY

The new guidelines for sugar consumption by the World Health Organisation is a recommended consumption of maximum 24gr or six teaspoons. Here's how you can easily cut 68gr today


1. Have a green smoothie

Instead of drinking a glass of orange juice at breakfast (22gr of sugar in Tropicana juice), make a vegetable smoothie (5gr of sugar)

2. Go dark

Replace a snackbar (33gr of sugar in a Mars bar) with 2 squares of dark chocolate (6gr in two squares of Lindt 70% chocolate)

3. Swap muesli for porridge

A store bought muesli can have 10gr of sugar (or more) vs 0gr of sugar in porridge

4. Go for the olive oil

Heinz tomato ketchup has 3.5gr of sugar per serving.  Drizzle your vegetables with olive oil instead (0gr)

5. Go nuts

Peanut butter has only 9gr of sugar per serving vs 20gr for Nutella.

Total amount of sugar at the end of the day: 20gr vs 88gr

London, the healthy guide

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London is such an amazing place to visit, we go every couple of months just to try the delicious new restaurants (though we definitely have a couple of favourites), markets and shops.  Find our top 5 foodie experiences below.

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1. START THE DAY WITH A HEALTHY BREAKFAST AT 26 Grains

Hands down one of our favourite addresses in London.  The breakfast porridge is legendary.  The menu changes regularly but if you are lucky, rhubarb will be in season... This place definitely gets busy quick so go early.  And don't forget to buy the cookbook to recreate the magic at home.

26 Grains

2. SHOP AT OTTOLENGHI

We have loved Ottolenghi ever since it first opened shop as a small deli though it admittedly has become so famous it can get very busy.  Whether you visit one of the delis or its restaurant Nopi, you'll love the middle eastern inspired food. Shop for zaatar and dukkah herb mixes.

Ottolenghi

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3.learn how to cook using what you have in your fridge 

Looking for inspiration? Hanna from Building Feasts runs cooking classes in small groups.  Her Fridge basics class includes such goodies as marinated feta, confit shallots and flavoured butters.  I loved her practical tips and make her crumble all the time. Upside: you get to eat the amazing food afterwards!

Building feasts

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4. ESSENCE CUISINE

Though I doubt you'll be hungry after all that food, you're probably up for a latte.  Essence cuisine is a vegan place which has all kinds of interesting drinks such as a Pine Pollen latte.

Essence Cuisine

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5.GO TO MARKET

Most people know Borough Street Market but we prefer going to Maltby street.  Though there is a street food market you also get to entre the production of many small food producers under the railway arches.  Look out for coffee from Monmouth, bread from St John and cocktails from Little Bird Gin.

Maltby Street Market

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Younger by Dr Sara Gottfried

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YOUNGER

by Dr Sara Gottfried

Around 90 per cent of the signs of ageing and disease are caused by lifestyle (and the environment created by your lifestyle) not genes....how you live and world you create, internally and externally - is more important than DNA when it comes to how you look and feel now and for the next twentyfive to fifty years.
— Dr Sara Gottfried

Whilst it would definitely be nice to shift some stubborn kilos (one of the first signs of ageing), our main goal is we want to feel healthy and energetic, not just today but also in 10 years time, in 20 years time and in 30 years and beyond.  Dr Sara Gottfried has been using recent scientific research to develop a programme to stay young as long as possible. And wrote a book about it: 'Younger, the breakthrough programme to reset our genes and reverse ageing'  Only recently genetic testing has become affordable enough to extensively use in research about ageing, metabolism, weight and disease.

This gives us the opportunity to impact ageing and disease processes in our body and be healthier for longer.  We read her book with the following questions in mind (if you're not interested in the science stuff skip to the bottom to find out what practical actions combat ageing)

 

 

What happens as we get older?

Ageing impacts body and mind in five ways leading to changes in muscles, brain, hormones, the gut and toxic fat
- Metabolism slows down resulting in more fat and less muscle.  Cells are less able to turn food and oxygen into energy due to eating empty calories, overprocessed foods and exposure to toxins. 
-  Brain cells lose speed and get killed by excess stress. Result: forgetting things, not sleeping well, feeling foggy after alcohol, increased risk for Alzheimer
- Hormones: both men and women make less testosterone (meaning more fat deposits on hips).  Women make less estrogen impacting hair and skin and together with testosterone bones and sex drive. Thyroid slows down so you put on weight. Cells become more insensitive to insuline leading to raised blood sugar in the morning (so you feel foggier, crave carbs, get wrinkles and have a higher mortality)
- Gut: a gut overstimulated by food and stress leads to inflammation, auto immune conditions, food intolerances
- Toxins from the environment (smoke, preservatives, pesticides...) accelerate ageing

is there any way we can influence our genes?

The good news: yes! Before 2003, DNA was supposed to be the blueprint for the cause of all disease.  However recently, research has found that whether you get certain diseases or not is not set in your genes but rather  the result of the interaction between your DNA, lifestyle and environment.  We all have the power to reconfigure the way our DNA talks to our body (called gene expression).  What you eat, how well you sleep, the amount of exercise you get, how you manage your stress and boost your brain, all these actions can help turning on the good parts of your gene expression and turn off the bad. This means upgrading your lifestyle now will give you more energy, better skin, less stress instead of feeling like ageing is a downhill decline.

The fastest way to age are to gain weight, screw up your blood sugar, economise on sleep, sit a lot starting at a computer screen, feel chronically stressed and anxious, and eat the top inflammatory foods: sugar, gluten and dairy.’
— Dr Sara Gottfried

WHAT ARE FIVE SIMPLE THINGS TO DO TO SLOW AGEING?

The program outlined in the Younger book is divided into 7 weeks centred around: feed, sleep, move, release, expose, soothe, think.  If you are interested in this do buy the book as it will allow you to focus on each of these and understand the why behind them (which always makes it easier to stick to something in our opinion).
Here are some easy to follow actions as an example

Replace plastic food containers with glass

The synthetic chemicals from plastic containers can end up in your food (especially when using them to heat food in the microwave).  Use glass or stainless steel instead (we love these containers).

Add 2 servings of vegetables to your day

The recommended daily intake of vegetables and fruit is 9 - 11 servings.  Make a green smoothie and add two servings easily!

Get up from your desk every 45 minutes

A lack of exercise has been proven to lead to osteoporosis, heart damage, muscle decline, hormone problems, a bad back, poor circulation, diabetes, cardio vascular disease, cancer.... But even if you already exercise an hour a day, your workout can't offset all the damage of excessive sitting.  Set a timer on your smartphone or download an app.

Go for a lunch time walk

Exposing yourself to bright light during the day will increase the quality of your sleep which improves your immune system, helps protect against cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease, and improves brain function.

Include a fast day this week

Occasionally restricting food has been shown to slow the ageing process by turning off an anti longevity gene. What seems to work best for many is intermittent fasting: stop eating at 6pm and eat again at noon the next day for an 18 hour fast. Fasting twice a week will also help to lose weight.
 

This a review of the book Younger. The breakthrough programme to reset your genes and reverse ageing by Dr Sara Gottfried.

 

The perfect green smoothie

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There is no easier way to up your vegetable intake than a morning green smoothie.   Compared to juices, smoothies have the added advantage of containing the whole of the vegetable including the fibres which are crucial for gut health.  I try to include at least two vegetables and prefer to use coconut water instead of (nut)milk for a lighter tasting result.   

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serves 2

 

instructions

1 cucumber, cut in 4
1 handful baby spinach
1 handful kale
1/4 frozen banana
small piece of ginger
250ml coconut water
mint
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 serving protein powder
a few icecubes

 
  1. Blend all the ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth.

  2. Add more coconut water if the smoothie is too thick.

notes

  • This is a very flexible recipe: don't have spinach? use lettuce or kale. don't like mango? use apple

  • If you find the taste of a vegetable based smoothie hard to get used to add some more fruit then gradually reduce fruit and add more vegetables

Chocolate banana bread

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After we cut out sugar and gluten, baking became a real challenge. I find the secret is using butter instead of the often substituted coconut oil.  This recipe is hiding a secret ingredient: courgette!  Rest assured no one will guess it's there though!  

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makes 1

 

instructions

Wet ingredients
300gr bananas
80ml nut milk (1/3 cup)
50gr butter
1 teasp vanilla extract
2 eggs
150gr courgette

Dry ingredients
60gr buckwheat flour (1/2 cup)
60gr almond flour (1/2 cup)
1.5 teasp baking powder
1/2 teasp baking soda
5 tblsp cacao powder
100gr chocolate (min 80%), roughly chopped

Add ons
Banana

 
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C

  2. Mix all wet ingredients in a blender until smooth

  3. Add dry ingredients to blender and mix loosely until just combined

  4. Pour into a cake in

  5. Add a thin slices of banana to the top

  6. Cook for 45 minutes

  7. Let cool slightly before removing from tin and slicing.

notes

  • Slices freeze really well separated with baking paper. Toast in the oven, no need to defrost.