Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Low Carb Foodie; Part 2

Three weeks ago I decided to start eating less carbs. Mainly to eat less bread, potatoes, pasta and rice.
I experienced some headaches in the first 2 days. But after that I just felt more energetic and I didn't crave sugary snacks anymore.
As I wrote here before; I was very amazed about the fact that I did not miss the carbs as much as would have thought.

For me the most difficult part of eating low carb is the fact that you have to plan meals more ahead.
Taking a sandwich and some sandwich fillings or spreads to work is so easy to do. And don't forget I'm used to this habit for more than 30 years already. Bread for breakfast and bread for lunch. It's really common in the Netherlands to eat like this.

In the third week I almost panicked about the fact that I was going to be home late because of a traffic jam and didn't have anything planned for lunch next day. Because if you eat low carb it will be mostly salads and soups for lunch  (I don't eat low carb bread; it feels a bit like cheating to me). Which means you have to do some preparations the night before.

And because I'm still a foodie I don't want to eat the same things again every week. So after 2 weeks of delicious salads for lunch (see my first Low Carb Foodie post) I called my husband and asked him to get a bag of precut vegetables and 2 sausages to make a quick Dutch vegetable soup with little meatballs in it.
Ready in 15 minutes and enough for 2 lunches!
Last week I tried this thick Red Lentil Tomato Soup after reading the recipe on Simone's Kitchen blog.
Also easy to make, tasty and perfect to make ahead and reheat for lunch.

I think it's funny that my husband, who has absolutely no reason to watch his weight, doesn't miss the carbs either. He just enjoys eating tasty food, whether it's with or without carbs.
We both liked the lowcarb quiche with broccoli and bacon with a green salad on the side. For this dish I was inspired by this recipe from the blog Nutty About Health. I made it in a smaller amount, because it was just for the two of us, in a round baking tray and replaced the heavy cream with creme fraiche.

For breakfast I tend to eat oatmeal with milk, cinnamon and some dried figs.
Or Greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts. I could eat this every morning; so delicious!

And I started experimenting with green smoothies. Which make me feel even more healthy. But it doesn't give me the same satisfied feeling as a salad or soup. But as a quick breakfast it's fine.

Green smoothie; 2 bananas, 2 apples, 2 hands of spinach and 2 glasses of water

I honestly don't feel hungry in between meals. But if I do want to snack something or if I'm having lunch or dinner later than normally I eat a cooked egg, some cheese, nuts or something sweet like dried dates or pure chocolate (minimum 70% cacao).

I always have this little snackbox in my bag

If you tell people you eat less carbs they automatically think you're on a diet. I don't see it like this. I still eat carbs if I want to. But now it's more likely that I eat carbs only one meal a day instead of three. Believe me; I will never give up on a good pasta dish. Nor would I want to miss eating baked potatoes with mayonaise. And I don't even think about stop eating things as home made cupcakes ;-)

And because I do not see it as a diet I really think I will manage to keep eating less carbs. Not gain weight and maybe even slowly loose some weight as a benefit.  But most important of all; feeling healthy and more energetic.

Tasty low carb recipes and tips are welcome. Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Foodie destination: Mallorca

When booking our next holiday I normally check the destination we have in mind on two points: 
Food & Wine. As in; What are the local specialties? Which restaurants should we definitely try? Are there any cooking courses we can attend? And are there local wineries that can be visited?

From there the accommodation is booked and we try to taste as much as possible in the time we have.
Almost any destination is a Foodie Destination as long as you do some research. 
So is Mallorca. Just not Cala D'or.

But our last holiday was not chosen and booked according my Food & Wine considerations. It was a family holiday together with my parents, brother, sister in law and 1-year old little niece. So most important was the fact that it had to be a family friendly resort. Because of this we ended up in Cala D'or which is perfect for those kind of holidays. Just not for foodies. It was packed with tons of Dutch spoken and owned (!) restaurants that all served pizza, pasta and steak...
And although these were not that bad it's not my idea of vacation.

But no worries; we had a great holiday. The apartment was perfect, the weather was great, my little niece was lovely, there were happy hours with 2 cocktails for the price of 1 and we rented a car for 3 days so we could drive around and taste a bit of the real Mallorca.

Here is a list of my Top 10 foodie things on Mallorca:

1) Lunch at Simply Fosh, Palma de Mallorca

Great service, great food and a great ‘Menu of the day’deal with only € 21,50 for 3-courses!
The menu changes every week and you get to choose from 2 starters, 3 mains (fish/meat/vegetarian) and 2 desserts.

Caponata Simply Fosh style with Buffalo Mozzarella
Beef Cheeks with Blackberry Puree, fried garlic and red onions
Fresh Cheese icecream with Prickly Pear marinated in Passion Fruit syrup

2) Dinner in restaurant Sa Teulera, Arta  

This restaurant is specialised in typical Mallorcan food.
Unfortunately we did not had dinner in this restaurant. But we were really lucky to have found a stall with their local specialties on the market in Arta by accident. We couldn't not see it; there was whole pig roasting on the street… !
The tumbet was soft and delicious. And I could not stop eating from a paella-like noodle dish; so tasty! Downside of all this great food was that I totally forgot to make pictures of it... 

3) Try Sobrassada

A raw traditional Balearic sausage made with ground pork, paprika, salt and other spices.  
Before I tasted it I thought that is was a 'hard' sausage. But instead it's soft and you have to spread it on toast. 
I have to admit it´s not my favorite specialty. But I guess you just have to get used the to specific taste a bit more. It´s funny that in ´tourist´shops they are sold neatly wrapped in paper. And I can understand why: if you see them without the paper they don't look as tempting!

Sobrassada neatly wrapped in tourist shop

Sobrassada sausage as sold on Olivar Market, Palma de Mallorca

4) Order Ensaimadas in Ca'n Joan de S'Aigo, Palma de Mallorca

One of the funny things about being a foodie is that in search of the best local delicacies you discover neighbourhoods and streets you would have otherwise missed.
We walked past this absolutely beautifull courtyard while looking for Ca'n Joan de S'Aigo.

Courtyard close to Ca'n Joan de S'Aigo
We almost missed it because it's tucked away in one of the narrow streets in the old quarter.  Stepping into this restaurant is like taking a step back into the past. It dates from 1700 and inside it looks like there is nothing changed ever since. It's also full with locals and almost no tourists.

Ca'n Joan de S'Aigo is famous for it's 'quart' (a really fluffy and soft sponge cake) and almond ice cream.
We ordered the quart and a few different ensaimadas to share. 
The prices are more than reasonable; € 0.95 for a basic ensaimada and € 1,- for a quarto

From left to right; quarto, basic ensaimada, ensaimada with cream and sobrassada

5) Wine tasting at Bodegas Castell Miquell, Alaro-Lloseta

Although it's a German owned winery and they don't grow the more local grapes from the Balearic Islands like Prensal Blanc, Callet and Manto Negro, this winery is definitely worth a visit. The views from here are amazing and they make high quality (and also pretty expensive!) prize-winning wines. At the time of visiting they were out of white, but we were more than happy to bring home a few bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon.

View during wine tasting at Castell Miquell

6) Board the Mallorca Wine Expres

A tourist train which takes you from Santa Maria through 8 different wineries, vineyards and cellars.
Unfortunately we didn't have time to plan this in our trip. But it sounds like a great wine tour with some good reviews and I will definitely book a spot if we ever go back to Mallorca.

7) Try Coca de Patata at Ca'n Molinas, Valdemossa

Typical sweet of Mallorca and the local specialty of Valldemossa.
Much more explained and better photographed by Cowboys and Cappuccinos blog! 

8) Stroll Olivar Market (Mercat d'Olivar), Palma de Mallorca

An indoor food market with stalls full of fresh fish and seafood, cheese, fruits, vegetables and delicious first class (plus expensive!)  Iberico and Serrano hams. We strolled the market together with my parents. My dad was so amazed about the prices of these cured delicacies; he could't stop saying: '€ 170,- per kilo? Per kilo? Really?'

Olivar Market at Plaza de L'Olivar
Beautifull cured Iberico hams, Olivar Market
Fresh Anchovies, Olivar Market

9) Mahon cheese from Menorca

A tasty white cow's milk cheese with an orange rind. Available from just a few months (soft) to aged (hard). Although from their neighbouring island Menorca, Mahon cheese is widely available in supermarkets on Mallorca.

10) Dinner at Spice of India, Cala d'or

And if, by some reason, you do get stuck in Cala D'or and are looking for an authentical place to eat; try Spice of India. Not authentically Spanish off course but the only place I found that didn't have a menu including pizza. All the staff was from India plus they serve some tasty curries!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Low Carb Foodie?!

To be clear; I don't diet. I just don't believe in diets. I do believe in healthy eating and running.
But the hype about popular Low Carb diets and colleagues talking about it did make me a bit curious.
Plus the fact that ever since I turned 30 running 2 to 3 times a week and eat everything I like just doesn't work anymore ;-)

So I decided that instead of totally eating Low Carb I would start by eating Less Carbs. Only one meal with carbs like bread, pasta, potatoes or rice every day. Which meant I would replace two of my meals with low carb dishes.

To my big surprise I'm not even missing all the carbs I used to eat!
Before I started I always thought that I'd really miss my fresh bread for lunch.
Not that I have lost a lot of weight (although I really cannot tell because I do not own scales).
But I feel like I have so much more energy!
I don't feel hungry and if I do feel like snacking I don't crave cookies or something else sugary.
Instead I take a few walnuts or dried dates and feel totally happy.
And being a foodie means that I get jealous looks at work during lunch time when I'm eating my lowcarb salad ;-) Because low carb or not; it has to be tasty!
It's really not a punishment to eat like this. More a new way of making choices in what I eat.

I would like to share  my favourite Low Carb meals from the last few weeks:

The Superfood Salad from Leon restaurant

I found this recipe in the Leon Cookbook I bought recently but it's also published on The Guardian website.
I substituted the feta cheese for goat cheese. It's delicious and so healthy. It just requires some planning ahead the night before you take this to work. But I make the amount for 2 and divide it over two lunches. Take the dressing with you apart from the salad, I do this in a little jam jar, and mix the last minute.
Here's a Instagram picture I made during lunch:

Cucumber Salad with Smoked Salmon

I have yet to write a decent recipe for this but I mix thinly sliced cucumber, tomatoes, smoked salmon, pine nuts, a bit of red onion and a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (2:1).

Here is a picture that was made by my colleague Sylvia that she posted on Facebook

Roasted Cauliflower with chickpeas 

A top recipe from Gwyneth Palthrows latest book It's All Good (in Dutch: (H) eerlijk eten).
I make this in a big wok pan and serve it with grilled white fish; an idea by Cooksterella.
You can find the English recipe via Google on different foodblogs.

Braised Chicory with Ham and Cheese

A favourite for many years. I always ate this with potatoes and even some extra meat. Now I just enjoy the best part of the meal. I make 3 chicories per person and use this recipe (in Dutch) from Belgian top chef Peter Goossens.
I will publish the slightly adapted recipe here soon in English.

Off course tips for tasty, low carb recipes are more than welcome!