Positive Thoughts & Lamb Shepherd Pie

May all your dreams come true.

I was at a great event last week, called “Create your Dream Year in 2014” hosted by motivational speakers Patricia Moreno and Terri Cole. All female speakers shared their personal journey, some of the struggles they’ve dealt with are; alcohol and drug addictions, broken marriage, low self esteem and fear of ending up alone. It was touching to hear their stories, very brave to open up to all these strangers in a room, and very powerful to hear how they changed their life. Even though their life experiences were all different, they all changed it the same way. How? By changing their thoughts!

By shifting their perception from “not feeling worthy” and “not having enough” to “I AM worthy” and “I have everything I need”.  Putting fear aside and filling the space up with love. Your thoughts create feelings and those feelings create actions that ultimately determine your reality. If you want to live a happy life, it’s important to have happy thoughts.  Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, even if you don’t fully believe it yet; fake it until you make it :)

This might not be a new concept to you but it’s always good to be reminded again. I left the event inspired and excited about the new year. What do you want to manifest in 2014?


When I woke up saturday morning it was snowing!! It was magical and I couldn’t wait to go outside. A perfect day to go ice-skating in Bryant Park with a bunch of awesome friends.  I hadn’t been ice skating in about seven years, but quickly got the hang of it again. Boy we had so much fun chasing each other, skating backwards and dancing on ice  :)  Isn’t it the best feeling to come back home after a fun day out in the cold; tired and hungry. And all you want to eat is comfort food… oh yeah! This Shepherd Pie recipe is a real treat, I made it twice now and the original recipe says it’s eight servings but I can tell you that both times the four of us cleaned out the oven dish :)

I found this recipe on food network and thought it was close to perfect. I couldn’t resist making it healthier; I added some extra veggies, replaced heavy whip with whole milk and used a little less meat.


Shepherd Pie 

Serves 4 hungry adults :)

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For directions click here  (Just keep in mind that I changed the ingredient list a bit)

If you have any great winter recipes you’d like to share with me, please do! I would love to know what you eat this season!

Lots of love,


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.


Culinary journey + wheat berries recipe!


I was raised in small village in Holland and our food was very basic. We grew some of our food, and our diet mainly consists of bread, dairy products, fruit, potatoes vegetables and some meat. My mum only used a little salt to season our food, there was no garlic or any other spices to be found in our house. Sound unimaginable now but back then it was normal, I didn’t know any different. Oh, boy, was I up for a culinary ride when I moved to Italy at age seventeen and entered a career that would take me around the world! I remember being in Spain for a job, where they served toasted bread with fresh tomatoes and garlic, a very common side dish called pan con tomate. I couldn’t believe my taste buds when I took the first bite and naively asked the crew the name of this miracle flavor. The answer was incredulous, and accompanied by looks of sheer disbelief. Did the señorita mean garlic? I was blown away as I realized that a single plant could add so much to a dish. It quickly dawned on me how much I’d been missing. I started opening my mind to explore and discover new flavors every day.

My mum was visiting last week and I took her on a culinary journey. Even though over the years she’s become more creative and she eats a great variety of food there were still so many things she had never heard of and never tried before. Every day again I introduced her to new food and she loved it. I had her try acai, chia seeds, vegan food, raw fish, smoked salmon, falafel and chicken curry. It was so much fun to see her enjoy all these new flavors and textures.  We cooked together and talked a lot about health and nutrition. When my “Integrative nutrition” study book came in she picked it up and couldn’t stop reading. She went home inspired and happy. We had some great bonding time and I’m grateful we share this interest now! :)


When I was Vegan for a week I discovered wheat berries at the local farmers market. I really like the sweet, nutty taste and it has delightful chewy texture. At first I thought they weren’t fully cooked but after a few bites I really enjoyed the texture. I enjoy finding new delicious ways of satisfying  my big (healthy) appetite. This recipe is a really satisfying vegan meal, full of vitamins and fiber!

Wheat berries can take a fair amount of time to cook (up to 50 minutes), so making a big batch in the beginning of the week and storing it in the refrigerator is both a smart idea and a great beginning to many quick, healthy meals throughout the week! And it’s cheap too, I got a bag for $1.50!

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Do wheat berries need to be soaked?I pre-soaked the wheat berries (overnight) but after doing some research it seems like it only cooks 10 minutes faster if you wouldn’t soak them. So no need in doing that.

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Enjoy this wonderful meal!  Sending you lots of love, sunshine and a cool breeze from Miami!

Vegan for a week & cauliflower rice

As you might have read on the MDE Facebook page, the documentary “Vegucated” inspired me to be vegan for a week. Why? I was curious to see how I’d feel and I hoped it would inspire me to create some yummy new recipes. I don’t eat a lot of meat but do frequently eat chicken and fish. I moved all animal products (eggs, milk, cheese) to the bottom shelf of the fridge so when I open the fridge I only see food that I’m allowed to eat. I stocked it with lots of veggies, fruit and nut milks. What I thought I’d miss most? My cheese! And..the milk in my tea.

Ok, so I’m on day five, how do I feel? I feel really good, energized throughout the day and I sleep very well; peaceful and a deep restful sleep. Not sure if it is related but I love it :) I have to say it’s easier than I expected. There are of course moments where I’d really love a piece of salmon or make some eggs, but it’s not the end of the world not eating animal products for a week. Do I miss my cheese? Yes I do! ;) But I had my fix; I made the most delicious cashew cheese and melted vegan cheddar Cheese (Daiya) on my veggie burger. It’s not Gouda but it’s not bad at all.


I ate the cashew cheese with cauliflower rice and beans, very taste and filling. Get the recipe here.  I used less garlic this time (1 for the cashew cheese and two for the cauliflower rice)  which I preferred. I also developed some vegan recipes that I’ll share with you!


Biggest challenge? I went to Whole Foods hungry, I walked passed the best smelling soups; clam chowder, chicken noodle and split-pea soup with ham. Very tempting..

And today I grabbed lunch with friends at Mandolin restaurant here in Miami. I ordered a Turkish sampler; hummus, tomato walnut dip, fava bean puree.. Nom nom. I scooped up the hummus with a piece of bread, had a big bite and then realized the white bread I was eating was probably not vegan; mostly made with butter and milk.. Sigh.. The vegan options were very limited.. I ended up eating fries and an over-dressed spinach salad with dates.. Not satisfying at all.

Other than that it’s been a fun food adventure and I’ll happily do another two “Vegan days” to complete the week. If you feel inspired and want to be Vegan for a week (or longer) here are some tips:


I wish you a happy and healthy week!

XO Jill

Carrot Quinoa salad with apple, avocado, coconut & toasted almond!


Did you know that Quinoa is gluten free and easy to digest?! It’s also one of the few vegetarian “complete” proteins, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs. And on top of that it’s high in iron, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E. Sounds good right?!  Let’s make this ancient grain taste so good that you actually want to eat this a LOT :)

I think plain quinoa can be boring; I usually make it with chicken stock to add some flavor. But this will blow your mind: Quinoa cooked in fresh carrot juice with ginger and union! Topped of with apple, coconut, avocado and toasted almonds! Oh yes, you’ll be eating sweet and fun-colored quinoa tonight!


Note:  I personally didn’t think it needed it, but maybe you want to add a touch of salt to the quinoa.

I like to take out the juicer and make fresh carrot juice for this recipe!direction


Roasted cauliflower with cheese


People teach what they most need to learn. That applies to me too; my biggest challenge was to eat more vegetables. The only way that I was going to eat more veggies was to start enjoying them more; I would have to make them taste good.

Quite frankly I didn’t know how to. My parents didn’t teach me how to cook. When I moved out of my parents house to start a modeling career in Milan I hardly knew how to boil an egg ;)  Who knew that one day I would be writing about yummy vegetable recipes!

Vegetables are so versatile, there’s so many ways you can prepare them and make them taste different every time. Like with cauliflower; I love cauliflower cheese soup, raw cauliflower rice with cashew cheese and now roasted cauliflower with parmesan cheese.Do you seet the pattern here? Cheese makes cauliflower tastes SO good.

Some people say you ruin your vegetables with cheese.. not me! LOL


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and garlic.

Season with salt, transfer to baking pan.

Roast for 10 min. Take them out and divide the lemon juice evenly.

Roast for another 30 minutes, until tender and lightly browned

Mix in as much cheese as you like ;)

Have a fun-filled Memorial weekend!

XO Jill


Cucumber tuna boat

cucumber tuna

The last couple of days I was looking for something to substitute my lunch sandwich, something substantial, healthy and super tasty. I had given it much thought and when I was going to give it a try I knew exactly what I wanted and voila; the perfect recipe in one try!

These cucumber tuna boats are refreshing and delicious; they have a great crunch and are so flavorful!

I devoured three of them in the past 24 hours LOL. I had two cucumbers, which makes four boats; and had my South African friend Morne test one for me. I got the thumbs up! :)

For four servings: ( takes les than 10 min. to make)


This could also be a great appetizer, just cut the boat up in bite size pieces!




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.


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!