Saturday, 31 October 2015

London fall outfit

With its chilly mornings, warmer afternoons and sometimes below zero eves - autumn is a tricky month to satisfy. Not only our moods are affected but our outfit choices become limited too. With the swift temperature changes and limited amount of sunlight (or its excess in an unexpected moment) this transition period into winter is almost impossible to dress for. It appears to be an endless battle between feeling too cold or too warm later on in the day - at least in my case.

This is my outfit from London in early October hope brings some inspiration into your autumn afternoons..


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

BERTMANS in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Oh how I love this place! Bertmans is a wonderful breakfast / brunch spot in Rotterdam aimed to serve customers with the most delicious healthy food. I'm always keen for a green cold-pressed juice, but just wait until you have the french toast or spelt pancakes!

The combination of black steel and wooden tables give the place an industrial look, whilst the colourful, open kitchen, background music and friendly staff give Bertmans that warm and inviting atmosphere every brunch place needs.

The restaurant is ideal if you're looking for a healthy and responsible treat. Many of the dishes on the menu are vegetarian, gluten and/or lactose-free. And the menu also consists of healthy juices, buckwheat pancakes, oatmeal, vegan cakes (read: slices of heaven) and various salads. A definite go-to place if you're in Rotterdam!


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Secret History - Donna Tartt

About 2 weeks ago I was at a book store and came across this title by Donna Tartt.
Known across the world for her success behind the Goldfinch I was obliged to at least flick through the book. I'm not sure it if was the book cover with its touch of renaissance art or the tittle itself Secret History that really intrigued me but I ended up taking it home with me..the synopsis helped too. When I arrived home, I found out that this is Tartt's first book to write as it was my first one of hers to read. Normally I prefer reading books in their original language, being bilingual I decided to give this Polish translation a try.

Couple days later I was already on the last pages, the book really took control of my life and I couldn't put it down. This was my first Tartt book and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. 

The book follows the lives of 5 closely knit university students between whom a murder takes place. Alone, each one is just your average student but together they manage to create an elite as well as an ideology. We see the story through the eyes of Richard Papin who is a newcomer in a way into their specific social circle. Without revelling too much - This book is not a classic "whodunnit" but a why do it. Furthermore it continues to explore various themes and engages the reader in a diversified way of thinking about ideologies brought up in the story. I would love to explore those themes and mention something more about them but I think that would spoil the narrative for you. Hence I'll stick to a general review and you just have to trust me. Every descriptive derail in the book brings the history alive and Tartt successfully manages to make you feel like you're part of the discussions and situations that take place between the characters. Tartt really has a gift of revealing all and nothing at the same time, whilst still keeping the narrative engaging as well as secretive in its nature. 

For me, it's a straight 10/10. I enjoyed the explored themes and loved the natural way in which the author installed a sense of suspense and mystery. However I just want to note that the overly descriptive nature of the written text may not suit every type of reader.
Seeing as how much I loved this book I just started reading the infamous Goldfinch. The book for which Tartt gained the Pulitzer prize in 2014..let's see if it will live up to my expectations, as after this lecture those are inevitably very high.


Monday, 26 October 2015

14 ways to a healthier lifestyle

Fitness and health are definitely trending. It's in our time to feel good, eat well and be active. Here are my 10 ways of improving and making your lifestyle that bit healthier. It's not just about the outside, it's about you treating your body well.

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

Above is the World Health's Organisation's definition of health.
We all have our different interpretation of this word and how to adjust it accordingly to our lifestyle - below is what it means to me:)

1. First things first: cut the junk

This doesn't mean you can't ever treat yourself to a junk food meal once in a while, presumably after a night out in town. But cut it out if you can, it's empty calories and fat. This food simply doesn't fuel your body with what it needs, instead giving you the excess of what is unnecessary. Also, you're just letting big companies make bucks instead of the local independent businesses.

Yep, that Wendy's looks delicious. 

But trust me this is way better:

2. Food shopping,prep & related books

Essentially it all starts at the supermarket, your local green grocers or the local food market. In the end, what you eat is what you buy. 

Take time when shopping and choose good quality fresh foods. Don't buy pre-made meals, it's as bad as eating a McDonald's.  Spend more time in the Fruit, Vegetable and Meat sections; less in the sweet & snack isles. 

Don't buy too much! Better to buy fresh fruits every other day than let it all go to waste in your fridge. 

Before you make your purchases get inspiration from healthy eating blogs, cooking books and friends. Plan ahead what you are most likely to make and buy accordingly. This doesn't mean you don't have space for a spontaneous meal. It's just nice to have a rough outline of what you will be eating.

First and foremost: Experiment with ingredients and tastes. It makes meal prep and cooking in general that more fun.

Women's Health mag and Donna Hay's books as an inspo

Read the labels: Yes it is tedious  but make it a part of your supermarket routine. The calories are not the only thing that matters. The fat content and various E addiative substances also contribute. Where possible, choose organic. Follow these guidelines to adjust accordingly. E.g. Choose products with a smaller amount of saturated fats if necessary.

These are the guidelines taken from the NHS website as an example of some intake values:

Total fat

High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g

Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g 

Saturated fat

High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g 

Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g  


High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g 

Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g


High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium) 

Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)

Source; NHS

3. Make the right swaps

Snacking is not something that needs to be cut out completely, it's often good to snack throughout the day in order to always keep your Gastro Intestinal tract busy. Just swap those chocolates, sweets and biscuits for something more rewarding for your body, such as natural sugars like fruits or if you don't need sweet - nuts. All in good amounts though, don't overdo it. This is more of a general idea though- swap your 4th cup of coffee for a green tea and so on..

4. Green is good= eat and drink more green

Juices and smoothies are the current big thing!

Broccoli, Celery, Spinach and so on; whether you juice them all together or simply steam cook them just include them in your meal schedule. 

As an example, my green pre-workout smoothie (spinach, cucumber,  apple and kiwi)

-very healthy & easy to make

My personal "go to salad"
-Baby leaf salad
-Feta & Edam cheese cubes
-Crab (fish) sticks
-You can add tuna or some chicken accordingly

Topped with some olive oil & balsamic glaze.

5. Stay hydrated

Water, water and water. Instead of juices from concentrate or "fizzy" drinks - drink water. Ice teas and cokes have wayyy more sugar that needed, really not necessary. Try to drink around 1,5-2L a day. This is purely dependent on your lifestyle as when you exercise you will loose electrolytes and those will need replacing. 

Adjust accordingly but always stay hydrated! At the end of the day we are over 60% water.

6. Get on the move

This just has to become a part of you weekly routine. 

You gotta exercise. Whether it's going running, gym, playing your favourite sports or simply riding a bike. Be on the move. It's good for your heart as well as for the rest of your body.

Remember to not overdo it. Slowly ease into a suitable exercise regime. Commit to it consistently and you'll notice the changes.  Gradually, you'll find the right balance for you. Find a time in your busy schedule to exercise more and you'll be rewarded. Starting a day with exercise gives you a positive outlook for the rest of it. Make it part of your lifestyle!

7. Eating at the right time

The truth is your body is like a machine and it needs to be fuelled when you'll use it a lot. Throughout the day we need this fuel. Eating 'healthy' meals at 9pm at night won't do you much harm but it simply won't do any good. 

Try to not eat late at night, and according to your fitness aims draw a line at a certain point in the eve e.g. no food past 8pm (just a juice or two at the beginning to gradually ease in). Unless you are extremely active at night and need that energy, your body just stores it as an excess and it's simply not used up. It's like trying to fuel a full tank. It ain't gonna help you.

Don't skip meals and starve yourself, you'll just feel extremely hungry late at night and it will all just become a viscous cycle.

8. Eat more fish & other seafood

A light, tasty meal, fuelled with Omega-3 and many other nutrients!

According to the American Heart Association..

"Fish is a good source of protein and, unlike fatty meat products, 

it’s not high in saturated fat. Fish is also a good source of omega-

3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy 

people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular 

disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk 

of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden 

death.  Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow 

growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and lower blood pressure (slightly)."


American Heart Association

Need I say more? :)

You can read more about the positive influence of fish & seafood on your heart's health at:

Jumbo shrimps with garlic & basil on a baby leaf salad by moi

9. Fruit & Veg

Simply: make smoothies, snacks and meals from these! They're pretty looking and very tasty.

10. Cut the %

Not only a one way ticket for liver cirrhosis - alcohol has so many calories! An occasional glass of wine with a good dinner won't hurt but avoid huge drink binges when not needed. 

We can't get rid of all of life's pleasures but we can adjust them to their correct amounts.

11. The breakfast of champions

Yes, you're already late for work or school and eating is probably the last thing you have in mind of doing. 

Start a routine, wake up those 20 minutes earlier and make yourself a big breaky. In the morning is when our body craves the energy the most. It can't tell us directly so just don't skip it. Make it part of your lifestyle. You will crave less snacks and your morning's will be more productive. Skipping breakfast isn't good and actually it's the best time to stuff yourself with everything you love - no limits. You'll burn it all later, just don't lie on the couch and watch TV ;)

12. Treat yourself

Whether it's pancakes, pizza, some chocolate or a pavlova. No need to go cold turkey. Treat and reward yourself. When you'll treat these dishes as rewards, they'll taste even better. Don't overkill your favourite sweet treats by indulging in them every day. Just suitably choose a day aka "cheat day" or moment from time to time when you can give yourself a break from the other dishes. Don't completely cut them out that will just put you off trying to eat a little healthier and you'll have to start again. It's all about finding that personal moderation and balance that fits you.

13. Supplement - but only what you are missing

Vitamins aren't exactly good for you in extreme excess but can help if you have any nutrient deficiencies. Measure up and check your levels and supplement accordingly. Its not necessary to stuff yourself with extra tablets if you're not deficient and your body is dealing with eventing correctly. 

When buying these, choose the real deal. Don't buy the synthetic vitamins which are not as nutritious. Yes the actual vitamins are more expensive but this is not something I would save on if I have a certain vitamin deficiency.

14. Most importantly: Stay motivated!

The key to any change we make is motivation. That's the building block of everything that we decide to pursue. Lifestyle changes are based on the same principle without the will to make a change - you won't go far.

Motivate yourself and motivate others. It's often easy to follow a certain lifestyle with a friend or partner. You're not exactly gonna lay on a couch, eating potato chips and watching TV if you see your boyfriend or girlfriend going for a run by the beach? Would you? I hope not:)

I hope this was helpful. I used my personal experience when I wrote this post. However  my knowledge is not perfect so these are only guidelines and thoughts which reflect what I think the foundations of a healthy lifestyle consist of. 

It's all complicated but essentially it all boils down to this, just:

Sorry for the explicit language:)
Source; Google


All I am thinking about is going back to dreamy, beachy and better days. So I am doing a throwbackthursday post to an amazing month-long(!) holiday to Indonesia, Bali.

These pictures are taken in Ubud, which is a town mid-bali, known for its iconic terraced rice-paddies. 


Sunday, 25 October 2015

What is Chia?

You may have come across these little seeds at the supermarket or in articles on the web. But what are they? What is Chia?

Only recently known to the mass market but these seeds have been around for thousands of years! Salvia Hispanica was cultivated by the ancient Aztecs of the 16th century.

Recently they have become widely available and popular among healthy lifestyle addicts (like us) as their nutritional value is immense. Packed with B vitamins as well as minerals such as Calcium & Magnesium to name a few, they seem to have the whole package.

I can't lie, the first time Alex & I tried to make a Chia pudding - it didn't go quite as planned. This was a while back, with little reference and without reading any articles or recipes we simply put some seeds in soya milk. Yep. Rookie error. We learnt from our mistake that proportions and timing are both key. Now I'm making a come back with all of the knowledge I've gained. Here is my recipe for my perfect Chia breakfast pudding. It's super easy to follow, so I'm sure you won't have any problems!

Chia seeds
Goji berries
Cashew nuts/ Almonds /Nuts of choice
Milk of choice (Almond/Soya/Coconut)
Vanilla extract

The proportions: 1/2 a cup of Chia seeds to 2 cups of e.g. Almond milk

-Put 1/2 a cup of Chia seeds in a bowl. 
-Add 2 cups of Almond/Coconut/Soya Milk (whichever you prefer) to the bowl.
-Add a teaspoon of Vanilla extract.
-Mix it all up and place in the fridge overnight so it's ready for your breaky (minimum 8 hours)!
-Add the toppings - here you can add whatever satisifies your taste buds. I love the combination of Goji berries with Banna hence those are my go to ingredients.

The taste of Chia is definitely something that takes getting used to. I love trying new things so I was up for the challenge, are you?

© Chat Blanc

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