Debbie Wieranga, founder of “Healthy Living In Heels” is one busy lady, as she’s currently working on her PhD while running a very successful blog designed to help you eat and stay healthy during your busy work week. She also happens to make really delicious food which is why we are talking to her for Friday Foodie today.
What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself?
Enthusiastic, driven and positive
What does wellness or wellbeing mean to you?
I associate wellness and wellbeing with happiness. Feeling comfortable in your own skin, being yourself, being happy with your body, the choices you made in life and the path you’re currently on. So basically just loving every bit of yourself and your life.
What was the catalyst that turned you onto living a more natural and holistic lifestyle?
I’ve always loved to work out. When I was a little girl I started gymnastics until I was about 13 years old and then made a switch to athletics. Two and a half years ago I started with Bootcamp twice a week and recently I added fitness to it so I can really work on my goals (doing a clean pull-up without help, almost there!). But it was not until one and a half years ago that I decided that it was time to also start eating healthy. My food habits were extremely poor, I didn’t like any vegetables, always ate white bread with spreads that were high in sugar and almost never cooked a meal for myself. Usually I had some left over pasta from my parent’s house or just bought a ready-to-eat meal in the supermarket. As my body was starting to change and really needed more energy to keep up with Bootcamp I decided to change my lifestyle completely and went from ready-to-eat meals to cooking everyday with lots of vegetables. Not soon thereafter my taste completely changed and now I like almost any vegetable and can’t imagine that I ever ate those tasteless meals full of sugars and processed foods. What kept me going were the immediate results. My energy levels are way higher, my skin and concentration levels have improved immensely and just overall I am much more vital and fit. Additionally, working out suddenly went much better! I lost my last pounds and now I’m really building muscles and getting more muscle definition.
What is your food philosophy and what are your favourite foods to eat?
My philosophy on my clean eating lifestyle is mainly that I eat as naturally as possible and preferably organic. I don’t count calories because I think it’s more important to nourish my body with the best and most natural foods out there and I try to avoid processed foods completely. Another key aspect of my clean eating lifestyle is that I try to make sure my blood sugar levels remain stable during the day by paying attention to the ratio of carbs, proteins and healthy fats in my meals. Overall I make sure that there is enough variety in my meals during the day and week. Of course I also have cravings so I eat 90% clean and 10% not so clean, but I don’t binge on unhealthy products. After all it’s a lifestyle and not a diet!
My favourite foods, well… there are so many! But most of my favourites will be part of my upcoming EBook – Clean eating on a budget! I’ve created a varied menu for 2 weeks including a grocery shopping list and tips to save money. There will be 14 breakfast recipes, 14 lunch recipes and 14 diner recipes. You can expect simple, quick and tasty recipes with bright pictures all taken by me. In just a few weeks a Dutch as well as an English version will be available through my blog so make sure you keep an eye out.
If you were to convert someone with one of your recipes, what would be your first choice?
Good question! I think that it’s key that the recipe shows how easy it can be to make something delicious with few and accessible ingredients. So it needs to be a quick & simple recipe with lots of flavour and something different compared to their previous lifestyle, but not to different. So my first choice will definitely be the coconut-chocolate pancakes of which you will find the recipe at the end of this interview!
You’re a keen foodie so what’s your favourite thing to make and why?
Oh my, there are so many things I love to make! But lately I’m a huge fan of my healthy homemade blueberry banana bread. It’s easy to make, perfect as a snack or to have alongside your breakfast.
What does an average intake of food consist of for you per day?
Of course I always start with a big breakfast! Breakfast to me is the most important meal of the day, I know corny, but I’m always shocked to see how many people skip breakfast. Lately I am kind of addicted to a new breakfast recipe I discovered which is super easy to make: a banana-quark smoothie bowl. I discovered through all the questions on my Instagram pictures that quark isn’t well known outside Eastern Europe countries so here’s a short explanation: quark (I use ‘lean quark’) is a dairy product with a similar texture as Greek yoghurt, only a little thicker and richer in proteins. It is made by warming soured milk which is strained when the desired consistency is met. And no it’s not the same as cottage cheese, because this is made with rennet and has a more loose consistency. So if you are living outside of Eastern Europe, you can substitute it with low-fat Greek yoghurt. Anyhow, I blend quark or yoghurt with a banana until smooth, pour it into a bowl and top with my homemade coconut granola from the blog, some fresh fruit like blueberries or grapes and I always add some superfoods like chia seeds or bee pollen. I add superfoods to enhance the nutritional value of my meal and because I really notice the benefits during the day, my energy levels are way better and I’m a lot more productive at work. No matter what I’m having for breakfast, if it’s quark or a big bowl of oats, I will always serve it with a big glass of green tea because that’s what I grow up with.
For lunch a big salad with lots of goodies in it is the best. I always prep them the night before so I can take it with me to work and just add anything I like: paprika, egg, tomatoes, cucumber, pine nuts, avocado, fish or chicken etcetera. In the weekends and when I’m working from home I love to have sandwiches, healthy fruit pancakes or a vegetable omelette!
Dinner, well I almost always try a new healthy recipe which I can post on my blog. Whether it’s a delicious pasta, a quinoa risotto, fish out of the oven or a vegetable plate.
Between meals, at around 11 A.M. and 3.30 P.M., I like to have a snack. Usually some fruit, a rice cracker with organic peanut butter or a filling homemade raw food bar. And I always make sure I drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water! But whatever my food intake is on a day I make sure it’s a variety of real non-processed foods.
What are your non-negotiables everyday?
A piece of dark chocolate after dinner! A little treat to myself. And also water to hydrate my body. For me personally it’s also very important to get enough sleep and every morning I make sure I have enough time to relax while eating my breakfast and just have 20 minutes to myself, not thinking about work or all the other things I have to do, but just to relax. And last but not least, and no I’m not a crazy cat lady ;), I always make some time to cuddle with my two cats Isis & Luna.
Who are your dream dinner guests and what would you serve them?
What a great but difficult question!! But after some thinking I would only invite one dinner guest: Jamie Oliver! He is a great source of inspiration for me and I would love to pick his brain. The conversation during dinner is important because when would I meet him again?! So I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen while he is here and I really want a relaxing atmosphere so I would opt for a healthy sort of tapas style dinner with lots of small, healthy bites and my ‘famous’ minced chicken balls should not be missing.
What lessons have you learned in the last few years since starting your health journey that have improved or enriched your life in some way?
That the most important thing to do is to always listen to my own body! What works for someone else, doesn’t necessarily works for me too. I also learned that it’s important to surround yourself with positive people who inspire and support you all the way. Just follow your own heart without spending all your time thinking off what others would think of your choices, they are my choices so I need to be happy with them.
What is your favourite quote or saying to live by?
Be happy, live healthy, enjoy life!
Recipe: Coconut-Chocolate Pancakes
Duration: 20 minutes
Serves: 1 person lunch
The ingredients for 9 small pancakes:
- 25 g coconut flour
- 100 ml water (or coconut milk)
- 2 organic eggs
- 1/2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 ts Himalayan sea salt
- coconut oil
The ingredients for the topping:
- 1 tbs quark or Greek yoghurt
- 1 apple
- Handful blueberries
- 1 ts chia seeds
- 1 tbs desiccated coconut
- homemade chocolate sauce: 3 tbs water & 1 heaped tbs cacao powder
- Mix all the ingredients for the pancakes until it’s smooth and let it sit for 10 minutes so the coconut meal can absorb the water.
- Heat up a little bit of coconut oil in a frying pan and make little pancakes (if they are to big they will break. I use a gravy spoon of batter for each pancake and you can fit 3 pancakes into a large frying pan)
- Then bake the pancakes on medium heat for about 2 minutes, turn them (gently) and bake for another minute on the other side.
- Meanwhile, cut the apple and mix the ingredients for the chocolate sauce in a small bowl until it’s a smooth sauce. If the sauce is too thick just add a little bit more water.
- Put the pancakes on top of each other on your plate, and top with the quark, fruit, chia seeds, coconut grater and chocolate sauce!
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