Eat Clean Recipe: Avocado Pasta

Today I had a craving. I wanted pasta combined with a creamy sauce. ¬†But having such a craving doesn’t really align with the eat clean principles. EXCEPT you are going to use an avocado to make your pasta dish a creamy and healthy sensation.

Avocadopasta

This recipe is prepared in no time and only needs a small amount of ingredients. This makes it easy for beginners and is good for your wallet as well.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 200 g whole-wheat pasta (Spaghetti)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 40 g or 1.4 oz Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • the juice of one lime or lemon
  • 2 gloves of garlic (crushed)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. Cook the pasta according to instructions on the packaging using a pot. Don’t forget to add some salt to the water.

2. Meanwhile peel the avocado (using a spoon) and add into a deep bowl. Add Parmesan cheese, lime or lemon juice and garlic. Blend the mixture using an immersion blender until you have a fine paste.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste as well as two tablespoons of pasta water. Stir together.

4. Strain the pasta of the water, e.g. using a sieve. Put pasta back in the pot and add the avocado paste. Fold in gently.

That’s it! Serve and enjoy your easy, fast and healthy meal.

 

Preparation and cooking time: 12 minutes, calories per serving: 390 kcal

Want to add a little protein? Use shrimp or salmon to serve with this dish.

A little side note on avocados: Most often they are not yet ripe when bought in the store. But don’t worry just put them in a paper bag at home to help them ripe quickly. But don’t forget to use them. ūüėČ

Who doesn’t like pasta with a creamy sauce? Well, I do.

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Health Bites #3: Boosting Activity

Health Bites 3

Many people want to incorporate time for fitness and exercise into their daily routine but do not know how to do this. This post will give you some ideas how to boost your activity during your day.

The time people spend sitting is enormous. Adults with a desk job sit about 16 hours daily. This is the time commuting to work, sitting at a desk at the work place, commuting back home, sitting in front of the TV or in front of a computer screen to wind down. Thus we need to actively make time for exercise and activity. This will improve health and mood and will help in weight-loss or maintenance.

Here are some ideas of how to improve your activity level during your day:

1. Schedule time for exercise in your planner. When you actively make time for exercise you are less likely to skip it. Also if you work out in the morning your are less likely to omit it due to changes in your schedule.

2. Commit to a friend to exercise. If you are going to meet up with an exercise buddy you will be more likely to show up and work out as you don’t want to stand him/her up.

3. Train for a sport you enjoy. This is actually self-explanatory. If you train for something you enjoy doing you are more likely to pull it off more often.

4. Plan active activities for the weekend. Go for a hike in the surrounding nature or take your bike and cruise the neighborhood. Meet-up with family and friends to spend a good time.

5. Wear a pedometer (many smartphones apps are able to count steps, too) and set a goal for number of steps for the week. If you are able to get to your goal up this number the next week.

6. I can’t emphasis this enough. Take the stairs whenever your path crosses some. In your apartment building or office take the stairs instead of the elevator. This will give you quick activity boosts throughout the day.

7. Sign up for a race. Even if you are new to running you can do this. Train with the Couch to 5K training plan and after nine weeks you should be able to run a 5K race. The best way to commit to this is to sign up today for a race in nine-weeks time.

Don’t feel intimidated though. Whatever your current activity level is, incorporating even one of the above ideas will improve your fitness and will boost your activity.

How to you boost your activity? Do you actively make time for exercise in your busy schedule?

Eat Clean Recipe: Red Lentil Dal

Today I prepared one of my most favorite dishes for lunch. It’s a red lentil dal with some delicious Indian flavors and coconut milk. What’s not to like about that? Now I want to share the recipe with you.

Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 500 g red lentils
  • two cans diced tomatoes
  • one can coconut milk
  • 4 spring onions
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • about a thumbs length of ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin, turmeric and curry each
  • 600 ml vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • plain low fat yogurt and chopped parsley to serve

lentil_dal

Directions:

1.  Heat the oil in a big pot. Chop the spring onions, garlic and ginger and add to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomato paste and then the lentils. Stir occasionally for about three minutes.

2. In the mean time prepare the vegetable broth and add to the pot. Put on a lid and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the lentils won’t burn. If necessary, like when the lentils soaked all the broth, add more broth.

3. Add the canned tomatoes and the spices. Let simmer for a few more minutes until the lentils are soft enough to eat (Just try a spoon-full). Add the coconut milk and stir under.

4. Add pepper and maybe salt to taste.

5. One serving corresponds to two scoops of the lentil dal. Serve with plain yogurt and chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Cooking and preparation time: about 45 minutes.

Do you like foreign cuisine like the flavors of the orient or the spicy Thai kitchen? I certainly do!

Weekends are the hardest and goals for June.

Weekends are the hardest days in a week to maintain a healthy diet because we all want to enjoy our free time. We spent them with friends or family or both. Last weekend I visited my best friend from Friday to Sunday. I didn’t make the healthy choices I use to make because I ate with people who don’t really care what they are eating and how much they are eating (how can they just be so slim then?). And although there are tons of advice out there how to eat healthy with company or when eating out, I just didn’t. Here are three reasons why:

  • my friend’s kitchen is not as healthily stocked as mine
  • eating with friends usually animates me to eat more because in groups it is totally a socializing thing
  • food choices for the weekend were already made before I arrived and I didn’t want to make it harder

A list of unhealthy things I munched on Friday evening through Sunday:

  • M&M’s with peanuts
  • salad with pasta and fatty mayonaise
  • a hot dog at IKEA
  • fruit salad with added sugar (what?)
  • salty crackers
  • small Magnum ice cream bar with caramel
  • some Kinder Schoko Bons (little German chocolate and milk thingys)
  • some more ice cream

I also ate regular stuff at too big portion sizes. The scale does not show a difference but my body does. I felt bloated from eating things I regularly wouldn’t eat and eating too much. I carried a food baby with me most time.

So what is left to say?

goals

I won’t beat myself up about it. I just will go back and eat healthy again. What will help me is all the good people doing the dietbet with @blogilates. They motivate me and inspire me although I don’t officially do the challenge. I want to try and do it on my own. The goal is to lose 4% of my current body weight until the end of June. For me that is about 6.8 lbs or 3 kg.

I took pictures of myself wearing nothing but underwear today. One from the front, side and back each. I’ll do so again at the end of the month to track my progress. To achieve my goal I’m going to follow Cassey’s June calendar the best I can. This month it is all about losing weight with focus on cardio training three days of the week to slim down. I’m happy Cassey provides this calendar which is really ideal for people who want to shed some pounds.

Apart from that I’ll start a new job with H&M next week. I’ll surely face some time issues this month, because I will have to learn how to make time for workouts and food prepping. Working in a big shopping mall with lots of food stands will be a temptation to eat unhealthy and just because. Goals for June will include time management and staying on track with clean eating.

Have you joined Cassey’s diet bet? Or do you follow her June calendar? What are your goals for June?

Third Weigh-In after not working out much but eating clean and healthy (5-31-13).

This month went by so fast. Nonetheless I want to share with you how I got on with my goals to live a fit and healthy life and my weight-loss journey. As you can imagine from the title I was not able to work out that much this month as I would have liked. I wanted to follow Cassey’s May calendar but due to a cold and feeling weak I only completed 11 out of 31 workout days. Pretty bad result indeed.

I caught a bad cold at the beginning of the month. I didn’t do any workouts for one and a half weeks and concentrated on eating clean and healthy instead, as this was all I could do. I dropped weight very fast (about 2kg). After that I picked up the workouts. The objective of the May calendar was to make the POPsters muscles pop, I experienced some strange things happening to my body. I really developed a lot of muscles in only a few days time. I worked out six days straight and felt the muscles being all hard beneath the fat I still want to lose. As a result I put on some weight (about 1.5kg) ¬†instead of losing some. I felt angry. Shouldn’t workouts support the weight-loss, I wondered. As I was still eating clean, the diet could not be the problem. My mindset shifted, I felt like working out was bad for me making me weigh more instead of less. I stopped working out then. And hallelujah, my weight dropped again.

Nonetheless it was hard for me to experience something like this. Because I wasn’t able to think about working out as something positive and healthy. I had to think about my goals again. Yes, I want to lose weight but I also want to get fit and live a healthy life in general. Workouts are very important to make that happen. Weight-loss I decided should happen with it not without it. As a result I just recently picked my workouts up again, concentrating more on cardiovascular training than on strength training.

Here are some pictures of me in March (the two on the left) and May (the two on the right). I wore the same clothes.

weigh-in 31stMay

In terms of weight-loss I reached my goal for May. I wanted to shed another 2 kg and I did. Actually I was at 78.6 kg in April and now am at 76 kg (or 167.2 lbs). Which makes a difference of 2.6 kg (or 5.7 lbs). In total I lost 7 kg or 15.4 lbs since Mid-March.

Other May goals included to keep a food journal at¬†MyFitnessPal. I wanted to track my food intake for about two weeks to get a feeling for how many calories I am actually consuming, because I read oftentimes it is much more than what one would think. But I think I am doing fine. Eating about 1400 calories a day, sometimes a little more and sometimes a little less. It’s okay having in mind I still want to lose some pounds.

How did you do this month? Have you met your goals for May? I for one did and that is possibly also due because I set some realistic goals. Seeing that weight-loss is finally really happening for me is great. And as it is ongoing for more than two months now. I might as well think about what I want to reach in numbers. More on that in another post about goals for June.

Eat Clean Recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Curd and fresh Herbs

Sweet Potato and Quark_resized

 

I just recently discovered Sweet Potatoes. I mean their delicious taste. I knew they existed but they never made it into my kitchen. Here is one simple way to prepare them.

Ingredients (serve 4):

  • 750 g Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 g low fat curd
  • 2 tbsp low fat milk
  • one handful of fresh parsley and dill¬†each
  • 1 tsp thyme, rosemary and paprika each
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350¬įF.

2. You do not need to peel the sweet potatoes before you put them into the oven. But you should then definitely wash them and remove any little potatoey faults. Cut the potatoes into wedges, be sure they are approximately the same size, and add them to a large mixing bowl for which you own a lid, too.

3. Add the olive oil and the thyme, rosemary and paprika to the bowl. Put on the lid and shake it hard to mix the ingredients well. Take a baking tray and line it with baking paper (sweet potatoes tend to stick to the tray). Put in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Make sure you turn the potatoes after 15 minutes to guarantee that they are evenly baked.

4. In the meantime you can prepare the low fat curd in another mixing bowl. Add the curd and the milk. Cut the fresh herbs and add to the bowl as well as the salt and the pepper. Mix everything well.

5. When the sweet potatoes are done serve and enjoy.

Are sweet potatoes a staple in your kitchen? How do you prepare them?

Eat Clean Recipe: Cyprian Chicken and Green Asparagus

I got inspired to cook this after watching a 30 minute meal by Jamie Oliver. He’s always so bold about food. Tossing the freshest ingredients in a pan and just enjoying what mother nature has to give. I like that.

The Cyprian chicken is stuffed with Mediterrean specialties like feta cheese, basil and dried tomatoes.

Here is my clean eating version of his Chicken and Asparagus recipe.

Image

Ingredients (to serve 4 people):

  • 4 medium chicken breasts (no skin, no bone)
  • 100 g feta cheese
  • 6 dried tomatoes
  • one handful basil and/or parsley
  • one package green asparagus (about 500 g)
  • 250 g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups couscous
  • two gloves garlic
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 tsp rosemary and thyme each
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or other healthy vegetable oil for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • one sheet of backing paper

Directions:

1. Wash chicken breasts and dry with paper towels. Cut a pocket into each chicken breast carefully, so that you can add some stuffing later.

2. On a chopping board chop the herbs, dried tomatoes and the feta cheese and mix with your hands. Add some pepper (no salt as the feta cheese is salty). This is the stuffing for the Cyprian Chicken. Now take a spoon and stuff the pockets in the chicken breasts with this mixture.

4. Heat the one tbsp of the oil in a pan. Roast the chicken breast on one side for about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken breasts. Add a pinch of salt on the chicken. Now prepare a cover using baking paper. Fold in half twice and cut around the open side in a quarter circle. Unfold. Now you should have a circular piece of baking paper. Wet it under the faucet and place on top of your pan. This will keep your chicken from getting dry. Reduce to medium heat.

5. Take a second pan and heat one tbsp oil. Wash your cherry tomatoes and put them in the pan. Crush the garlic gloves and add to the pan. Now take one green asparagus and hold on with your hands on the top of each side. Bend it where it breaks get rid of the lower part (this is the stringy part). Chop the remaining asparagus at the same height. Put it into the pan with the tomatoes and saute. Pull the tomatoes to the top and let sit on medium heat.

6. Prepare two cups of hot water and pour in the pan with the vegetables. Add the couscous. Let soak for three minutes. Add salt and pepper as well as rosemary and thyme to taste.

7. Serve and enjoy your healthy clean eating meal.

Preparation time: all in all 30 minutes.

 

Asparagus is in season! Do you like green asparagus? Have you cooked something with asparagus yet? What do you think about this recipe? Share away!

Belated goals for May.

I am running late with this post. On the one hand that is because I had not made up my mind about my May goals and on the other hand because I got a cold and my mind was too foggy to blog. I am better now.

goals

My goals for May:

First thing I wanted to do, was to change the appearance of my blog. This was due to the wordpress theme I was using (Reddle), which didn’t let me include a tabs bar at the top. You have now access to my About me page and a contact page. More are to come. I also made a new blog header with Picmonkey. This is because I wanted something more minimalistic,¬†less colorful, more to the point. As you can see I already did that.

Second I set up an account at MyFitnessPal. I am taking a coursera class about nutrition, health and lifestyle. It’s totally free and I hope to learn about proper diets and insights in nutrition. Basically after completing the first week’s course material, I get that my approach at clean eating is pretty much what is considered a healthy diet. This goal is about staying on track with the coursera class I’m taking. This includes tracking my food and exercises with MyFitnessPal for about two weeks and see how I am doing.

Weight-loss is also on the agenda again. I think I aim for a 2 kg drop in weight this month.

I also wanted to include the blogilates May calendar. But I am already behind because of my cold. I missed four days of workout. Still I will follow the calendar as best as I can, seeing it made me shed some pounds since I started.

Have you made up your mind about your May goals?

Health Bites #2: How to stay on track with your diet?

Making a resolution to change the way you eat is easy. What is not is staying on track. Recently I decided to change my eating lifestyle and eat clean. This is because I want to be healthier, lose weight and become fit. So I had a resolution and enough reasons. It’s all I needed to start, jump right in, change the way I ate. I got excited about it. It was easy.

Health Bites 2

So now, what is  not easy is to stay on track. Motivation, I soon learned, has to come from within. And there are times I struggle more than others. These are situations when eating with friends and family who eat like always and eating out. Those are the most tempting times to go right back where I was.

So what do I do? In times I struggle I go back and remind myself of my goals and the reasons why I want to eat clean. In fact I have them written down, on my blog, in my calendar, on sticky notes on my fridge etc. I am constantly reminded why I started eating clean in the first place.

If you lost focus, remind yourself about why you started your diet in the first place. What did you want to achieve with it? Also ask yourself why it is so hard for you to stay on track? For me, as I said above, it is eating out or eating with friends and family, who don’t eat the way I do. Knowing this helps me, too.

The most important thing is to visualize your goals. If need be, every single day. Also recommit to your goals every single day. You can do this by writing them down on a sticky note, make a collage, post them to the mirror, let your phone remind you about them.

Also I f you can’t do it 100%, then do it 80%, it’s still better than nothing. Don’t beat yourself up for giving in on a craving. Come back afterwards, stronger more determined than before. Every single meal is an opportunity for you to make the right decision. ¬†You had a doughnut for breakfast? Don’t let that be an excuse to make more bad decisions. That means don’t go for a burger for lunch and a pizza for dinner. Opt to go back to your vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates instead.

Changing your eating lifestyle is a big commitment and necessarily forms a big part of your life then. Realizing this makes a big difference, too.

 

If you want to indulge yourself, do it the healthy way. More on that in Health Bites #3. Stay tuned!

Second Weigh-In after April Calendar and getting used to clean eating (5-2-13).

I already pointed out that for me leading a healthier and fitter life is also about weight-loss. This is because I am overweight. I started this journey at 83 kg (that is only a few kg short of obese for my height).  On April 1st (after only two weeks of workout and eating clean) I already noticed a drop of about 2.2 kg.

So my new goal for April was to lose another 3 kg. Did I meet my goal? Well, not quite but I still managed to lose some weight. I am now at 78.6 kg. That means I lost another 2.2 kg. I am happy about that, although I did not make my goal. It is already a big deal for me to finally weigh under 80 kg again. And a 4.4 kg total in only 6 weeks is a lot (9.7 lbs for everybody who is not as familiar with kg).

weigh-in 2So I promised some pictures. And this time I’ll give them to you, although I am a bit uneasy about them. This is of course because I am ashamed of how I looked like November last year, when I was in South East Asia. I would have preferred pictures like the one from today as souvenirs. I pulled out the same clothes as I wore in Laos. And no doubt one can see the difference. The trousers do fit better and my belly does not bulge over like last year. There is still so much fat to lose but I am proud about the change and all the beautiful muscles I have beneath the fat. I look taller, too. But maybe this is because I am taller in the right picture. ūüėČ

So how did I do this? People who have read my past posts know that I follow Cassey’s workout calendar. And the one for April was REALLY challenging. You don’t know Cassey? Well, she is the most inspirational and bubbly person I know, she is a certified Pilates instructor and shares workout videos on you tube, she is my personal workout buddy, she is a motivator and health¬†advocate. She is doing Pop Pilates at Blogilates.

About the workout calendar. Cassey posts one for each month on her page. You can then follow along her workout routine. It’s about 5 workouts per day that usually take me 1 to 1 1/2 hours to complete. And afterwards I feel so pumped. It’s just great. In April Cassey challenged us (the Popster community) to do all of her 127 workout vids. Well I did about half of them. Again I did not meet my set goal but nonetheless I feel great about what I accomplished. You can see the change, can’t you?

I also wanted to get to know the fitness and health community out there. I did so reading other people’s blogs and commenting there. I follow people with the same interests in Twitter and tweet about my progress. I think I accomplished something here this past month.

Have you got a blog I might be interested in? Let me know in the comments.

Now as this post is already pretty long, stay tuned for my May goals and another Health Bite where I share how I get along with eating clean and what to do to stay on track. Also check out my first Health Bite, where I talk about how to stick to your healthy resolutions.

Have you accomplished your goals in April? Let me know.