Exercise and Vegan Thanksgiving recipes

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The past five days I was in Bogata,Columbia. Bogata the second highest capital in the world, lying at approximately 8,646 feet (2620 meters) above sea level. At higher elevations it is more difficult to get the amount of oxygen from the air that your body has become accustomed to (from living at lower elevations) Less oxygen in the blood means less oxygen getting int your cells , it made me feel dizzy, fatigued  and bloated. It took a few days for my body to adjust. Yes, it influenced my mood.. at one point I felt so cranky. I was laying on the bed in my hotel room and didn’t know what to do with myself. It was too early to go to sleep and I was too tired to do anything. Even though I felt heavy headed and I had no energy I decided to go to the gym anyway. I had the feeling that would do me good. When I arrived at the gym I was happy to find a spinning bicycle , riding a bicycle felt like a better option than running. Soon after I started peddling my body warmed up, my mind cleared up; I could think straight again and positive thoughts entered. I felt so good afterwards, the difference was day and night. I felt like myself again, happy and energetic.

Often times we come up with a lot of excuses why we can not go exercise. But has there ever been a time that you feel less good about yourself or less happy when you finish exercising? No right?! Why then not just do it, even if it’s just 20 minutes. Don’t let your mind trick you!

Interestingly enough we seem to take better care of ourselves when we feel good than when we don’t. But don’t we need to take a bit more care of ourselves when we are not feeling great?

Einstein said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome”

Vegan Thanks giving recipes:

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I was really excited when Slenderbread magazine asked me to develop recipes for a Vegan Thanksgiving.  Even though I’m not vegan, the vegan cuisine certainly inspires me to eat cleaner and to be more creative.

Brussels sprouts and quinoa both deserve a spot in the “superfood” category, they are insanely good for us but they need a little help to make my taste buds dance. With only a few ingredients I turned the Brussels sprouts into candy tasting veggies and I cooked the quinoa in fresh carrot juice to give it a festive color and a sweet flavor.

But what to make for the main course? I called my fellow model blogger and vegan friend Emily Nolan (mykindoflife.com)to ask if she could help me with that. She didn’t have to think long, spicy chili; her husbands favorite!

What makes this recipe different than most chili recipes is that the soup includes cacao powder and coffee; most people love both and are somewhat addictive, so how could anyone turn down a bowl.

Sweet Brussel Sprouts (4 servings)

Brussel sprouts

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Trim the stem ends and remove the outer layer of the sprout. Rinse the sprouts with water and cut them in half.

Boil an inch water in a pot into which your steamer basket fits. Steam the Brussels sprouts for 10 min.

Heat up a frying pan with 2 tbsp olive oil. When hot transfer Brussels sprouts to frying pan, try to lay the sprouts on the flat side first.  Keep an eye on them, they’ll get nice and brown quickly. Turn them over and stir for another minute. When they are almost ready poor in the maple syrup and toss the sprouts until evenly coated.

Place the sprouts on a dish and sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on them. Mix in the cranberries and hazelnuts and enjoy this Sweet Brussels Sprouts dish!

Side dishes:

Carrot Ginger Quinoa (Serves 4)


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Heat up a medium size saucepan, add oil and unions and sauté until translucent (about 3 minutes)

Stir in the carrot juice, ginger, and quinoa. Bring to a boil and when it boils let it simmer (reduce heat to medium-low) until all liquid is absorbed (15-20 min).

Let rest for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

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Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic (my husband likes mucho garlic) and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle, tomato paste and tortillas and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste is brick red, about 4 minutes (add a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick). Add the coffee (I use decaf if I’m going to be eating this at night) and simmer until almost completely reduced, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, cacao powder, beans and 2 1/2 cups water and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili thickens slightly, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim the large stems off the cauliflower and coarsely grate the florets on a box grater. About 10 minutes before the chili is done cooking, stir in the grated cauliflower. Cook the chili for 10 minutes with the cauliflower in it and then remove it from the heat. Stir in the chopped cilantro and season with salt. Add some water if the chili is too thick. Ladle into bowls and add scallions and sour cream.

If you’re feeling cheesy, serve it how my husband likes it and add a handful of Daiya cheese to the top of a piping hot soup bowl. Mix the cheese into the bowl until it gets gooey and stringy (this is important because this particular cheese tastes exceptionally good when it’s melted) and serve with a side of homemade cornbread or crunchy tortilla chips.

You can also make this soup into an amazing dip by adding less water and mixing the entire bag of Daiya cheese into the pot of soup to cook down. This makes for a fantastic chili queso recipe.

Emily and I wish you the most tasty and fun Thanksgiving ever!

XO Jill

Celebrating MDE 1st anniversary + winter salad


Years ago I wanted to get into acting and I signed up for a four week bootcamp. I loved the classes, I had so much fun exploring and wanted more. That’s when my hubby and I decided to move to LA to give it a shot. After two years I realized I wasn’t passionate enough to pursue acting as a career and decided to stop but what was I going to focus on now?

One day I stood in the shower and looked at my “Kiss my face” shampoo bottle and it said “Do what comes naturally”. A train of thoughts followed, what is it that I really enjoy doing and what comes naturally? What makes me happy? It then hit me; every time I go to the farmers market and fill the car up with goodies I’m at my happiest. I can’t wait to bring it home and start making great meals. I love food, cooking and health. That’s it! I want to become a great cook and want to write about health and nutrition, maybe I should write a cook book? Some of my friends were surprised to hear that. You, cook? Really? My husband wasn’t impressed about my cooking skills, but this sweet man fully supported my decision and he’s now reaping the rewards LOL.

That’s when my MDE journey started. I fully committed to learning how to cook, and the more I did it the better I became. The better I became the more I enjoyed it. And at one point I was ready to start a blog and launched it on November 14 2012, today exactly a year ago. I’m celebrating the very first MDE anniversary, it has grown a lot since then. It’s been a fantastic year, thanks SO much for your support and feedback! I’m excited to share with you that I’ll launch a new website in the near future. This new site will contain even more great content on health, cooking, nutrition and fitness. Stay tuned!!!


In two weeks from now I’ll be living in NY and I’ll trade my jeans shorts, flip flops and tank tops for leggings, boots and big sweaters! I noticed that I naturally prepare my body for the cold; eating winter foods such as hot oatmeal, soups and potatoes with sauerkraut. Winter time calls for warm food, but it’s also a good idea to keep eating some thing raw. Raw broccoli will support your immune system; it has a very high content of Vitamin C (three times the amount of that in oranges). In addition, broccoli has high protein content, which is beneficial for those who want a leaner body or more muscle mass.

I love this salad, the creaminess of the vegenaise, the sweetness of the raisins and the crunch of the pomegranate. When eating this tasty salad I eat way more broccoli then I usually do. And it super easy to make, should not take you more then 10 minutes.I like to eat it with potatoes, pan fried potatoes are my favorite :)

Winter broccoli walnut pomegranate salad 

makes 2-3 servings


Put the broccoli in a bowl and mix in the vegenaise. Then add all the other ingredients and finish with a pinch of salt.

Stay warm & eat well! Sending you lots of love.


Red cabbage salad with orange, goat cheese and mint.


Eating lots of raw foods is super healthy and it makes me feel energized. I try to eat something raw with every meal. In the morning some fruit, in the afternoon a veggie juice or a salad and for dinner…I find it more challenging. Some veggies like carrots, spinach, arugula, tomato’s etc are easy to eat raw but other veggies like sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower are a bit challenging. Luckily I like challenges, I lock myself up in the kitchen and don’t come out before I get the satisfying flavor I’m looking for ;)

I knew how to stir-fry and cook red cabbage but how about making a raw red cabbage salad? I have to admit it didn’t make my mouth water… until I mixed in a citrus dressing and added mint, orange and goat cheese. What a transformation!! I made it several times now and my friends love it. It’s “MDE approved” and it’s time to share this with you! :)

If you have raw recipes that you like to share with me, please do!


Put the red cabbage in a bowl and toss it with the dressing.

Sprinkle the goat cheese & chopped mint over the red cabbage and place the orange on top.


Go beans!

I really enjoy developing new recipes and modifying existing ones.  Every recipe goes through rigorous testing before it receives the label; “Model Approved’ and earns a spot on the blog. I’m very selective and only the best recipes survive :)

Last Sunday I prepared a wonderful bean salad with avocado, grape tomato’s, corn, onion and a refreshing lime dressing.  As I was snapping some pics of my creation my sweet dog Sky came over and sniffed around to see what’s cooking.

Her eyes were definitely asking me if she could please sample the food for me. My eyes warned her that this is NOT doggie food LOL. She laid down close to the bowl as she releases a sigh of disappointment, eying the salad while licking her lips, so cute. I think that Sky agrees; this bean salad is approved :)


Health fact:  Beans are little fat burning machines! They’re high in fiber, aid digestion and have numerous other health benefits. Beans also quickly satisfy your appetite and are a low calorie food.

Do I need to say more? Go beans!!!


beans direction

This bean salad is a great side dish; grilled chicken or beef would go well with this!

I like to make this dish ahead of time and refrigerate it for a while.  Leftovers can be eaten the next day (the lime juice acts as a preservative) just refrigerate.

I used pinto beans for this recipe but feel free to use black or red beans or a mix of them.

It’s time for sweet Brussels sprouts!

Growing up in Holland, I’ve had my fair share of Brussels sprouts. Since my parents weren’t the most adventurous cooks they were served overcooked and plain. Needless to say Brussels sprouts weren’t my favorite vegetable. Who would have thought that one day I would promote these green fellas?!

Brussels Sprouts rank high in the top 10 healthiest vegetables. They are rich in fiber, packed with vitamin A and C and have anti-cancer properties.

I’ve found a way to make them so tasty that I actually cleaned up my plate!!! My parents would be sooooo proud of me :) They were so good that I decided to serve them on our Thanksgiving dinner!