Unwinding in Punta Cana

When was the last time you went on vacation? Or a better question; when will you be going next? :) I came along on a business trip with my husband to the Dominican Republic and we added a few vacation days to unwind from all the craziness. We were staying in a spectacular resort with white sand beaches, beautiful blue water and very important; plenty gourmet restaurants to choose from.

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Every time we went to lunch and dinner I studied the menu with excitement, ordered and waited in anticipation to enjoy the wonderful food. Unfortunately it was mostly disappointing.. The fish was overcooked, the meals too salty, the pasta not fresh, even the desserts weren’t worth the calories.. ! Argh I couldn’t believe it!

Food certainly influences my “pleasure rating” when I’m on vacation, so yes I might not come back for the food but we had a great time. The staff was really sweet, I got plenty of sleep, went zip lining and swam in the most magical blue hole. The blue hole is tucked away in the jungle and only recently opened for the public. The water is filled with minerals and of course I couldn’t resist diving in and letting my body soak up all the goodness, so refreshing!

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The three things I was looking forward most on this vacation? Not having cell phone/internet reception, not having to do laundry, and not having to cook! What I couldn’t wait to do when I came home? To get behind my computer/phone, do laundry and cook!  LOL As soon as I got home I whipped  up a clean healthy meal. Sigh… home sweet home :)

News flash: In a few weeks from now we’re going to say goodbye to Miami and hello to NYC. After two years living in the tropics we decided to go back to the four seasons in the big apple. New adventures are calling and I’m super excited about living in the concrete jungle again. And I’m thrilled to take you with me on this journey!

Stay in touch, share your thoughts and spread the wealth of health!

Love, food & smiles,

Jill

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Culinary journey + wheat berries recipe!

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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! :)

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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!
XO
Jill

Hones(tea)

TEA TIME!

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Do you know of anyone that has never had a cup of coffee in his/her life? No? Than you do now! For some reason I can’t stand the taste of coffee. I sure had a sip, I tried it a few times over numerous years but I can’t.. I do enjoy the wonderful smell of grinded coffee beans and “meeting up for a coffee” is part of my life too, but I drink tea instead. .  I love tea, all sorts of tea and I drink it at all times of the day. I pick the tea that suits my needs; in the morning I like green energy tea or echinacea which supports my immune system. During the day some lemongrass or a chai tea (a favorite) with some honey and milk. After dinner, peppermint is great for digestion and if I need to wind down before I go to sleep chamomile is the best choice.

Have your ever tried rooibos tea?  The rich smells of Autumn will fill your home when you brew this bountiful blend. Rooibos (pronounced ROY-BOSS), means literally red bush in Afrikaans. Although the bushes themselves are green, once fermented the leaves turn into a rich dark red color. Rooibos has numerous health benefits;

1) It’s caffeine free

2) Contains powerful antioxidants

3) prevents against some cancers

It also contains nine trace minerals including iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and sodium – making a great thirst quencher and ingredient in sports drinks. Rooibos is also as hydrating like water, therefore counts towards your recommend 8 glasses a day!

Add a little bit of honey to bring out the natural sweetness and try it with a splash milk!

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HONESTY

My hubby and friends call me “purity”. It suits me well; I thrive when I’m surrounded with people who are real, I mostly eat organic food, I love being in nature and treat myself and others good. Being pure also means that I’m really honest, if you ask me for an opinion I’ll tell you exactly what I think. Watch out LOL! When you ask me why I didn’t respond to your message I won’t tell you that I didn’t get it, instead I’ll tell you the truth.

I admit being honest is sometimes scary, it might be confronting, painful and/or not exactly what the other person wants to hear.  But there’s also something disarming when you say/hear the truth.. It’s quite refreshing to get a real answer to your question, so you can stop making assumptions cause you now really know what’s going on in the other persons mind. And when you tell the truth you won’t get tangled into a lie that might come out one day. Much easier, right? It might not seem like it at first, and sometimes a little twist of reality (read; lie) can be more suitable..But trust me in the long run it is. Don’t be afraid to be honest but be gentle when delivering truth.

But what to do when someone is telling you the truth you feel that you’re being accused of something ? As hard as it may be, don’t take it personal; the feelings expressed are that persons feelings and even though it might seem directly related to you or your actions just let it be. Hear it out.  Remember; we all live our own truth. What you feel is as valid and real as what the other person is feeling. Stop pointing fingers and try to understand where he/she is coming from.  When you can understand the other persons emotion without feeling attacked you’re half way through this. Then if there are any misunderstandings or apologies to make, clarify and apologize . That’s how simple it CAN be :)

Have a magical week in which you speak and receive truth!

XO Purity

Let’s take the bull by the horns and pop some corn!

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This week has been challenging for me and for a lot of people around me. It’s as if something was in the air; things that no longer could be procrastinated came to surface and needed to be addressed. Through sharing these times and experiences I feel we can support each other and gather the courage to take the bull by its horns!

In my life there are a lot of changes in the air and even though I like change and I can feel the excitement it’s also a bit scary and unsettling, especially when it’s not clear what the changes will look like. There are several options and some of them depend on decisions I have no control over. I was waiting for the Universe to give me signs on what to do but when I didn’t get any I had an epiphany. I thought “why am I in a depending position ? No one else can make a decision for what I want my future to be like. I should make the decision regardless of what the answer is that I’m waiting for” And so I did; I asked my heart what it desired and when I clearly felt what it was I wanted I made some powerful decisions that opened up the road again! It feels great to take charge again :)

If you’re also dealing with something similar, I hope this might help you make a decision. By making a decision everything will change even things that are not directly related. And remember that when you make decisions from your heart you will never regret it!

MAKE YOUR OWN POPCORN ON THE STOVE TOP!

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I did some research on movie theater popcorn and it’s quite shocking to find out that you’re paying top dollar for a bag of chemicals:

-Most movie theater popcorn is cooked in an oil product that is mostly hydrogenated coconut oil, a highly toxic trans fat.

-The corn itself is grown using insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, fumigants and other chemicals used to “treat” the corn.

-The artificial-butter-flavored topping is typically made mainly from hydrogenated soybean oil (another trans fat), artificial flavoring, beta carotene for color, and preservatives.

-One “flavoring agent” used in popcorn “butter” is called diacetyl, and it has been associated with lung disease among workers in the factories where it’s made.

I strongly recommend not eating cinema popcorn anymore, bring your own healthy snack instead! And if you crave for popcorn or have a movie night at home make it on the stove! Not in the microwave? No,  a lot of microwaveable popcorn also have artificial butter flavorings, chemicals, and excessive amounts of salt in it.

It’s easy and fun to do. Make the best tasting, healthy popcorn with real ingredients! I use a whirley popcorn pan (www.whirleypopshop.com) but you can use a regular pan too; click here for video directions. My favorite is white truffle popcorn and the sweet curry is also really good!

Most importantly; use organic corn! Corn is ranked high in the top four genetically engineered crops and is very bad for you!

1/4 cup corn makes 6-8 cups

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ENJOY!

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.

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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!

Cauliflower-rice

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:

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I wish you a happy and healthy week!

XO Jill

Rainy days and wine!

It’s been raining a lot in Florida!  Yesterday I was shooting sexy swimwear in the Keys; rain, dark clouds and humidity, not the ideal circumstances for a sexy photo shoot. But we were all positive and made the best out of it. By the end of the day, as the sun was setting we moved location for another few shots. We were welcomed by a large amount of mosquitos and noseeums, we sprayed ourselves with anti bug spray but they were ruthless. It drove us crazy, biting us everywhere! As soon as we called it a day we ran to our cars and quickly drove off. I was afraid to even look at my body, I knew it was bad…This morning I woke up, looked in the mirror .. and winced.. it looks like I have the measles :(   Those pics better be worth it LOL.

Even though it’s still warm in Florida, (84 degrees) I covered my body up with clothes so I’m not constantly reminded of what it looks like but the itch drives me crazy at times! What helps is focusing on Models Do Eat, it gives me instant joy and it takes the attention away from my itchy skin :) Thanks for connecting with me through Models Do Eat!

Do you like wine? I do, but have to admit that I don’t know much about wine, I judge a bottle by it’s cover! That’s why I asked Monica Vaughan, who’s a wine expert to give me some recommendations! Monica studied oenology; the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking. You gotta love the way she describes wine, that’s a talent on its own! Read the interview below.

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I met Monica on a  catalogue shoot at a gorgeous mansion upstate NY. In between shots we would chat a bit but there wasn’t much time to share stories. Monica told me that she is super passionate about wine and opened a wine boutique in Nolita, downtown NYC  I was curious and I had so many questions to ask her, luckily after the shoot we got on a train back to city and I could hear her out :)

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Now I know what wine to pair up with my favorite cheese and what wine we should try at least once in our life!

When you are in NY go check out the store or order some bottles online:  http://nolitawinemerchants.com/

Cheers! In Dutch; proost! :)

Almond flax cake

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German model and actress Nadia Dassouki, shares her healthy almond flax cake recipe with Models Do Eat!

Nadia got bitten by the acting bug after shooting two Avon commercials. She started attending acting classes and shooting lots of shorts and indie films. This active and versatile beauty resides in LA where she enjoys going hiking, kickboxing, running or doing yoga. Nadia is also passionate about writing and drawing and loves a good sushi sashimi!

Watch Nadia make this delicious cake! click here.

 

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ALMOND FLAX CAKE (rich in protein, fiber and omega 3)

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directions

Follow Nadia on Instagram: @nadiadassouki

Thanks for sharing Nadia! :)

Burning man, dry camping & tips!

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Can you imagine living in the most loving, fun and creative environment in which you can freely express yourself without being (or feeling) judged by other peoples opinions? That’s what Burning man is for me! Almost 70.000 people from all over the world come together to celebrate life, create an entire city in the middle of the desert for a week and live together in harmony. There’s so much to do and to see at this amazing festival; large art pieces are spread all over “the playa”, there are workshops, lectures, performances, yoga classes and lot’s of party’s with great DJ’s.  And guess what? You don’t have to bring money anywhere since Burning Man is a gifting community; we all share what we have! Out of this world right?! You have to experience this at least once in your life; put in on your bucket list!

(read more about the 10 principals of Burning Man)

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The desert is quiet a harsh environment to submerge yourself in; temperatures rise to 100 degrees during the day and at night it can fall below 40 degrees. You get around by foot or by bicycle in the very dusty and windy open desert unless you get a ride or build an art car that is approved by the DMA (Department of Mutant Vehicles). Goggles and a dusk mask are basic necessities in this somewhat post-apocalyptic world.

Some people sleep in tents, others in the open air or in their car, but many people seem to enjoy the luxury of an RV. My hubby and I were “dry camping” out of our RV which means that there’s no water or electric hook up; you fill up the RV once before driving into the desert and that’s all you get. We had 66 gallons water available for 2 persons for 7 days and that includes showers and washing dishes. Normally at home a person uses 25 to 50 gallons for each shower!  It was a challenge to be very conservative and smart about the use of water but surprisingly it worked out perfectly! It’s an amazing feeling to know that you can do with so much less.

One of the biggest benefits of camping out of an RV is that it has a fully equipped kitchen; Yes you know me; I stocked up the fridge and freezer with the best food and ate as good as I would at home. That’s what makes me a very happy camper ;)

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I learned a lot from this trip, here are a few “camping cuisine” tips;

- I made a big pot of lentils, which proved a great basic as I was able to create 3 different meals from that.

- I brought 4-5 days worth of fresh produce, including some items that were not completely ripe, so they would ripen during the trip.

-Bring a blender: I brought my Vitamix (yes, I’m an addict ;) ) and made lots of smoothies and delicious soups, a quick way to get lots of nutrition.

- Bring some frozen food for the days you don’t feel like cooking; I bought the most delicious Pad Thai at a favorite Thai restaurant and froze it, some lnsanely tasty ravioli and some frozen flaxseed breakfast waffles.

-Bring some canned food. I brought salmon, tuna, sardines and beans.

-Bring drinking water:  We used a gallon per day for 2 persons.

What didn’t work: Don’t put things you don’t want to freeze in a cooler with dry ice.  I made that mistake; a single layer of dry ice on the bottom froze everything rock hard and spoiled most of the fruit and potatoes I had in there.

I hope by sharing my adventures I’ve sparked your adventurous spirit! :)

Follow your heart , make things happen, live your dream! 

XO Jill

Five star RV dining.

Hello sweet friends,

Six days ago we left Miami and drove over 2000 miles. We wake up in one state, go to sleep in another. We’ve been driving through the mid west and boy I had no idea it was this beautiful; the state parks, lakes, rolling hills, free roaming cows, farms and corn fields; it’s feels so good to be in nature!

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It’s been a wonderful journey; on the road and inside of me. Finally time to unwind, to reflect, to be still and to spend quality time with my man. What I love about Rv-ing is the feeling of freedom, the exploration of places I’d normally not go and the enjoyment of the simple things in life.

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What do we eat on the road? Luckily the RV is equipped with a small kitchen :) I’ve been cooking a lot! We don’t eat out much cause it simply doesn’t taste as good and the few option are usually not that healthy.  It’s great not to depend on the roadside food chains such as Mc Donalds, Cracker Barrel, Subway, Dunkin Donuts etc. We are eating five star meals from the RV in the Pizza Hut parking lot LOL.  Black truffle & mushroom pasta with parmesan cheese. Brussel sprouts with ham, mushrooms and tricolor potatoes, Organic chicken shoarma with veggies in a pita pocket…If we would ever need money for gas we could turn this RV into a food truck ;)

I hereby share a really simple yummy, creamy  carrot ginger soup which I made twice this week!

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Lots of love from the roads of Wyoming !

XO JIll