Rainbow stir-fry

SnapseedI couldn’t let a week go by without a new recipe, even though I barely had any time to cook. I missed not being at home – and next week I will be away even more! – but today I immediately grabbed the opportunity to eat as many veggies as possible.

This may well be the easiest recipe ever for a great completely home-made stir-fry. I adapted it from http://www.superhealthykids.com

We got a colourful, healthy and nutritious post-workout meal and even managed to save and freeze one portion for the hard times (read: those times when I’m working abroad and Francesco needs some comfort food straight out of the freezer).

RECIPE

Wash and chop all of your vegetables. I used 1 head of broccoli, 1 red bell pepper, 3 medium carrots, 1 onion. Throw them into a pan with olive oil on medium for 5 mins, then cover them and let steam for 5 more mins.

In the meantime prepare the sauce. Half a cup of soy sauce, 1 generous teaspoon of honey and 3 teaspoons of grated ginger root: combine them in a small pan over medium heat, and add 1/4 cup of water where you will have mixed 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir until you like the texture, then put to the side. Take your chicken breasts, chop them up into bits, quickly dust with flour, and cook over medium heat. Add in a tablespoon or so of sauce. Add to the first pan together with udon noodles, stir in the sauce and finish cooking (4-5 mins). Enjoy the easiest and healthiest stir-fry ever!

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Smoothie time!

Work hard, play hard. Recover hard?!

I know it doesn’t sound catchy, but it is a universal truth. If you work hard, and on top of that you train hard, and you also want to race hard, you need to recover as well. Foam rolling, stretching, sleeping a lot, icing body parts is all part of a process. Eating healthy plays a huge part in recovery – and it is the best part, if you ask me.

I love to cook and I love how running allows us to have good, tasty food most of the time – and the extra treat when we feel like it. Food can also play a role in reducing inflammation, and as an old lady (I am in my late twenties already! AND a married woman!) I really need to take care of my aching joints. One of the best natural anti-inflammatory foods out there is ginger, so today it’s ginger day!

Apple banana ginger smoothie

Crush 4 ice cubes. Slice 1 apple, two bananas, grate some ginger root (we peeled it) and blend together with a glass of milk.

We ended up with a creamy, refreshing and anti inflammatory smoothie with bubbles! Our blender works magic.
I am also sharing with you a second recipe for a smoothie that we really liked – not least because of its colour 🙂 It looks like a unicorn fell into the blender jug! This one is a bit more rich in proteins, which is never a bad thing. You can also add your whey protein powder to any smoothie if you need to supplement your protein intake. We are not fans of protein powder so we try to make sure we get enough high-quality proteins through our diets. Plenty of lean red meat, chicken, fish, egg whites, Greek yoghurt, nuts and chickpeas (try our hummus!) are our favourites.

Special ABC smoothie (Apple Berries Celery)

Crush 4 ice cubes. Slice 1 apple and 2 celery sticks. Put into the blender jug together with one small cup of frozen berries and blend. Add 100 g of unsweetened Greek yoghurt and 125 g of fresh ricotta cheese. Blend some more.
Let us know how you like our smoothies and share your best recipes with us!

Recipe of the week: homemade hummus!

SnapseedOne thing that I love about living in an international city is being exposed to all sorts of food. When I was little, the most exotic food we could get was Chinese takeout. I later discovered that each country, if not even each city, had its own “Chinese” food, which doesn’t make it very Chinese. But Brussels really offers a little bit of everything. We have tried Japanese, Tibetan, Thai, Greek, Lebanese, Ethiopian food and there is still a whole world of cuisines waiting for us to be brave enough to give them a shot.

On the other hand, I really like to cook. I like experimenting, which means that our weekly menus are rarely very Italian. In our house there is at least a curry or a noodle dish thrown in every week, and some other dashes of ethnic food scattered here and there.

And we have recently become the proud owners of a blender! So after trying my hand at it I decided I just had to make hummus. Here comes my recipe.

Put 1 tbs tahini (if you have a good blender you can also make your own) and the juice of half a lemon in the jug. Blend for 1 minute. Add 2 tbs of the best olive oil that you can get your hands on. Blend. Add 250 g of canned chickpeas and blend blend blend. You need to be patient here and experiment with your blender. I got quite frustrated as the chickpeas didn’t seem to magically turn themselves into a velvety cream, but after trying different speeds and functions I discovered that the soup function was the best. Add a teaspoon of salt and some water into the jug and keep blending until you like the texture.

It really is that easy! We love to dip carrot and celery sticks into our hummus, but it is excellent on dear old Wasa crackers and/or regular crackers, or rice cakes, and it makes the perfect cream for an incredibly tasty chicken roll. Last but not least, it can be kept in the fridge up to one week. Hope you like it as much as we did!

(Sweet) potato wedges

We all have crazy lives, busy weeks, demanding jobs, and sometimes when we get home after work all we want to do is just lay on the couch and open a bag of crisps (and possibly a beer). Well, most of the time when Francesco and I get home from work we have to resist that urge, change into running clothes, and go out and do hill repeats, a fartlek session, or even just an “easy” run (which more often than not feels everything but easy).

But we also know how to spoil ourselves. I love to cook and we both love to eat good, healthy, and tasty food. We need it to fuel our runs, our activities, and our mind, but we also need it to feel well, happy, and loved. I cook every day, mostly twice a day, and Francesco does the washing up – and in both cases it is an act of love.

So today I want to share with you a recipe. It is a very easy one, but potatoes are comfort food and sometimes you need just that. I said one recipe, but it is a double recipe, as there is one version for “regular” potatoes and one for sweet potatoes. Here you go!

Potato wedges – for two people

2 large potatoes

salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

grated Parmesan cheese

olive oil

Preheat oven to 225°C. Cut the potatoes into thin wedges (I don’t peel them, just wash them before cutting them) and cook them in boiling salted water for no more than 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and toss them with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese (this is the best part!). Drizzle with olive oil, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Put the oven on grill for 5-6 minutes for the final touch.

 

Sweet potato wedges – for two people

2 large sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon of golden caster sugar

salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

olive oil

Preheat oven to 225°C. Cut the potatoes into thin wedges (I don’t peel them, just wash them before cutting them). Toss them with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and a teaspoon of golden caster sugar. Drizzle with olive oil, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Put the oven on grill for 5-6 minutes for the final touch.

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There will always be a queue for the best fries in Brussels…

It can be August and Brussels is still empty, but you will always have to wait some minutes in line to get a taste of the best fries in town… Maison Antoine in Place Jourdan is a must if you are visiting the city. Right now they are serving their fries from a van, but soon they’ll open a new place in a brand new building. Enjoy!

Throwback Thursday

Wedding: #tbt

My wedding day was perfect, because I knew it would be. I was going to marry the man of my dreams, my one love, The One. What could go wrong, as long as we were husband and wife at the end of the day?

That said, any wedding can prove tricky. I had been told that there would be glitches, but I didn’t believe them. My wedding would just be perfect. And it was! But we did have glitches. So here comes my very personal list in 6 points (plus 1) on how to survive on that very special day.

  • Break your shoes in (and have a spare pair!)

I am a trainer type of girl. I do wear heels at work but I deeply care about my ankles, toes and nails and was worried about how I was going to run a trail marathon just days after my wedding. I had a pair of trainers to change into and just loved them. I wore my beautiful heels during the ceremony and even during the reception, but those customised trainers saved my life during the photo shoot.

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  • Use compeeds

On the same note, you can identify the spots where the shoes are going to cause you blisters and prevent them with Compeeds. I did find them useful, but do not try to peel them away before they come off, or you will regret it (been there, done that).

  • Have someone keep tissues handy

I didn’t want to have to carry a clutch but I did need a few essentials, and I had my sisters and my mum put a survival kit in theirs. That included the above-mentioned tissues, lipstick (which I forgot in my sister’s clutch when we went away to take pictures), stain removal wipes and contact lenses. Of all, I only really needed the tissues, but quite a lot of them.

  • Allow yourself to feel everything

I was dead calm until around 5 pm the day before my wedding, when I started feeling a sense of anticipation in my stomach. I didn’t sleep at all. The next day I went running at 5 am, under a light, quiet rain, which helped me focus. I then went from excited to impatient to incredulous my wedding day had actually come, to feeling waves of love, merriment, and a profound and deep awareness of what I was about to do. I felt the luckiest person in the world and asked myself if I deserved all that joy. And even though I got emotional even before the ceremony and I knew my makeup would suffer, I allowed myself to feel everything, absolutely everything that went through me. I cried my eyes out during the ceremony, and laughed my heart out during the reception, and I felt absolutely blown away by all the love I was surrounded by.

  • Remember it’s your (and your husband’s) day

We were so lucky to have the wedding we wanted. Still, there will be guests who will try to monopolise you because they want a thousand pictures with the bride and groom; or there could be a conversation you seem to be unable to come out of with grace; or your wedding planner could be all over you. Don’t let it get to you. Enjoy your day, the company of your friends, and most of all your newly-wed husband.

  • Have a good breakfast (and lunch, and dinner)!

I always kick off my day with a good breakfast. My mum, my sisters and I allowed for an extra half hour specifically for breakfast. And make sure your hotel has you covered for dinner! My husband was so hungry by the time we got to our hotel after we had said goodbye to all our guests that we went down to dinner still dressed in our wedding suit and dress. Everybody loved it!

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  • Pick the right guy

Once you’ve nailed that, everything’s cool.

A post on food!

I know you are all curious about the food here. We have eaten Mongolian food for ten days now and are still alive, even though we are happy we brought some of our own food.

First of all, you can not drink water from the pipes here, which means either buying bottled water – which we never do in Europe – or boiling it, waiting for it to cool down and only then drink it. We were extra careful, even brushing our teeth with drinking water from the bottle, but keeping hydrated was not easy. I think the most critical point was the second aid station during the race: we had been told that there would be drinking water at each aid station (and mind you, there were only three over the 42 k course), but they only had boiling hot water at the 24 k aid station, which meant we couldn’t drink or refill our bottles. Luckily we still had most of the water we had carried from the beginning.

The food we had in UB was good. The first night we tried a Mongolian grill restaurant, where we picked our veggies, meat and noodles and brought it to the chefs for them to sauté it. The second night we had my favourite meal so far: we decided to be brave and give a try to a wonderful street food stand where we were given huge beef skewers with pieces of fat in between the chunks of meat. The end of the world.

At the camp we alternated between the food we had brought from home (dried meat, parmesan, crackers, tunafish and ready-to-eat rice salads with tuna and veggies, biscuits, chocolate and nuts) and the local food. Breakfast was usually one egg plus two slices of some sort of sausage (which we tried the first day and decided to avoid, as they were impossible to digest), and some sweet fried bread (boortsog), but sometimes we complemented with bread peanut butter and jam. On race day I stuck to my typical pre-race breakfast (banana + peanut butter), as I really wanted to avoid tummy issues as much as possible. Lunch was always some kind of soup + one sandwich. The soup was usually very unappealing, as it was some kind of broth with floating, unknown vegetables in it. Eating sandwiches every day for a week is tough too, especially when you are getting ready for a trail marathon and are trying to get all the nutrients you need, so we were once again grateful that we had brought food that we knew would sit well in our tummies. The dinners were always the same: beef stew or minced meat with rice or pasta and stewed vegetables. At the end of the week we were a bit tired of that as well, but we enjoyed the last dinner we had at the camp. It was a traditional Mongolian buffet dinner and we had sooooo much food. It wasn’t much different from what we had been eating all week, but we could have as much as we wanted, and we made the most of it.

Yesterday we had the final dinner in a typical Mongolian restaurant in UB, where we had some of the local delicacies, which unfortunately tend to always feature mutton meat (which I can’t eat). We had steamed dumplings (buuz) and fried ones (khuushuur), and khorkhog, which features a stew with sheep bits (head included) and veggies that are put in a huge pot with hot stones for a long time. I had beef tsuivan noodles, and they were undoubtedly the best noodles I have had in a long time. We were also served fresh salads and steamed and roasted vegetables, which we enjoyed very much. They brought us way too much food, so we asked to pack some and we had leftovers for lunch today. It was still good, even if re-heated, but I must say everything is quite fatty and fried, and definitely not the easiest food to digest.

We have also tried some local chocolate!

In a nutshell, if you are interested in Mongolian food, expect plenty of meat loooooots of mutton and no chicken whatsoever – and fried dumplings. Vegetarians might have a hard time in Mongolia, but we have been told UB has several excellent vegan restaurants.