And so the healthy lifestyle continues

After having the Hello fresh experience for more than a half year, my wife suggested it was maybe time to try something different…something even healthier. Is that even possible was the first thing that popped in my mind?? I mean is that possible without actually going on a diet…which is something I refuse to do as first of all I like the way I am and secondly when you stop with a ‘diet’ you gain more weight then you actually lost in the first place… My wife thought Pascale Naessens‘ way of living or cooking seemed like a perfect candidate. I have to admit that I initially was a bit skeptic about it, as I wasn’t really keen on preparing dishes/recipes from somebody who is not a real cook… in my head (without at that time having seen an actual recipe) Pascale Naessens‘ food was the equivalent of the recipes of a dietitian that for me stands/stood for flavorless boring food… so basically food that doesn’t really put a smile on my face 🙂 . To satisfy my wife I just took a few recipes from the Pascale Naessens website (that are available in English, Dutch and French) with the idea that this way she would notice that the fuzz around those books and food is just a ‘hype’ and the books nothing more than beautiful pictures bundled in a book… To make a long story short, in reality I didn’t end up showing  my wife, but rather myself the recipes were much better then skeptic me initially wanted to acknowledge 🙂 After trying those 4 ‘trial recipes’ I ended up buying 5 of her books 🙂 🙂 To start marking the recipes that seemed  like something we would want to eat, put them in a spreadsheet and make a week menu by making a selection from the list until we tried all of selected recipes (without repeating the recipes until we prepared every recipe).

Pascale Naessens 2

Pascale Naessens

So far 90% of the recipes were able to convince me… ok ok I’ll admit they were just good… About the remaining 10% we didn’t like, it is just 10% and it for sure is just a matter of taste. The lentil soup with turmeric would be an example of those 10%. A few examples of the 90% would be the Fluffy blueberry cake, Cod with mustard-soy sauce and tomatoes, stuffed Turkish peppers, casserole with tomato, eggplant, zucchini and mozzarella, etc… Just to name a few.

Blueberry cake

Pascale recept 2

Pascale recept 3

Pascale recept 4

Pascale Naessens‘ philosophy is simple, you basically have to leave bread and modified carbohydrates out of you plate when eating. This basically means that instead of having the traditional meat/fish, vegetables and potatoes/rice/pasta in 1 plate, you eat meat/fish with vegetables or vegetables with pasta, rice, potatoes, quinoa, etc… Also use oils like olive oil or sesame seed oil, coconut oil or omega-3 fats. Me, I stick to using Pascale Naessens recipes for dinner and desserts (without flour), but if you would want (like my wife) you could also use her breakfast and lunch recipes… but I love bread and I sometimes need my traditional food (I love eating tooooo much). Which by the way is also something Pascale emphasizes in her books and in interviews, that it is no problem to sometimes have something different… if it is occasionally … ok, with me it is maybe a bit more than occasionally, but not much more!! I do try to stick to the “Pascale” way of eating when I’m at home (that’s why I go out so much to eat 🙂 🙂 no no, just kidding).

Quote Pascale

What I also like about her recipes is that they are simple and easy to make (which leans against my life motto about food:  simple food is best), but very tasty and that is what it is all about, right?! If I would indeed lose some weight because of these books, it is a bonus but definitely not the main reason to follow this way of eating!! I see it more as expanding my horizon in the search for good food and recipes.

Pascale cookbook - Copy Pascale cookbook 3 - Copy

So far I followed the recipes how they are written down and they are all well explained… the only thing that does drive me crazy about some recipes is the use of  words like‘some’ or ‘a bit of’. I have experience with cooking and usually have the instinct/ feeling how much she means, but I’m very sure that for people who are not  used  to cook or don’t have a culinary background this could ‘ruin’ their dish and therefore not having the  dish how it is supposed to… but it just would be easier if it would say 10g of … ok I know I’m nitpicking 🙂 luckily it is only in just a few recipes. My idea for when I tried all the recipes we had chosen is when preparing them a second time maybe modify the recipes a bit, not by adding things, but rather by for example instead of using the fish from the recipe, use a different kind of fish, or meat, etc…you could see it as “re-inventing” Pascale’s dishes to surprise yourself and your dinner guests and avoiding eating the exact same thing more than once 🙂

People who know me, know that for me to make a step like using these recipes must mean that I’m really convinced of it… if I wouldn’t have been the line would have been drawn after the 4 trial recipes…

I would say, try and see if she convinces you like she convinced me and thousands (maybe millions) of people around the globe! Enjoy

Pictures Copyright © 2014-2016 Pascale Naessens

Looking back on 10 weeks of Hello Fresh

Being able to cook without having to do the shopping, a dream for most people! Hello Fresh makes this possible for you without having a butler at home :-). What Hello Fresh does it basically make you a food package for a 3 or 5 days (per week) regular or vegetarian with all recipes and fresh ingredients (from local growers) included to make the predefined dishes. There are some ingredients you need at home like olive oil or salt and pepper, but besides that you’ll find everything in the box. They even give tips how/ what you can put in the freezer or on how to storage the food to keep the food fresh.

Hello Fresh

My wife and I already tried a similar concept like Hello Fresh about 2 years ago, but we stopped it as it didn’t fit our lifestyle at that moment. We were never home at night which resulted in food being thrown away.  We did like the concept and we do still use some of their recipes.  When our daughter was born (about 4 months ago) and we knew we would be home much more than before it seemed like a good idea to start again with a concept like Hello Fresh.

Why Hello Fresh and not one of the others? When a new baby is born, the parents get a few boxes filled with coupons, samples and other baby related things. One of those boxes offered a coupon for Hello Fresh… and that’s why we decided to try Hello Fresh. After ‘using’ Hello Fresh for about 10 weeks (as we do sometimes still go out and on holiday 🙂 ) we can say we are still happy with our decision. I know it might seem that I’m not into cooking or shopping for food anymore, but that’s not true. I do still enjoy going to open air markets or the supermarket and cook my recipes. I still do all of that in the weekends. Now I’m just able to spend a bit more time with my family and not having to ask my wife over and over again what she feels like eating tonight or tomorrow (it made her crazy sometimes 🙂 there you have reason n°2 😉 ).


What I like about the recipes from Hello Fresh, is that they are simple and everybody should be able to make them. Another advantage is that no recipe takes more than 40 minutes to cook (most of them not even more than 30min). I must admit that you can sometimes tell the recipes are Dutch as some combinations seem rather strange like lasagne for example with a salad to go with it (as an Italian, that’s a big no no). What I then usually do is just leave the salad out and eat it during the weekend and buy a few extra ingredients. Or I also sometimes make recipes in a different way then described as I know it will just be better my way… (without adding extra ingredients that is). Nevertheless most recipes are very nice and we enjoy them. Another benefit is that their recipes are good for your health as they only provide the portions you are actually supposed to be eating a day. I must admit that when I see some of the portions in the box I think ‘that will never be enough’ and I’m wrong 98% of the time 🙂 Last but not least, another advantage of Hello Fresh is that you throw away less food. The recipes also contain a table with up to 6 people the amounts that should be used for the ingredients (including if they are ok to eat for people who have problems with Lactose or Gluten)


Libanese wrap recipeLIbanese wrap recipe 2

Hello Fresh also uses forgotten vegetables, from time to time replace the usual potatoes and pasta with quinoa, couscous or any other thing you can replace it with. Basically you get to eat stuff you usually wouldn’t buy or eat, but are now ‘forced’ to eat and in the end love it and think why you never tried it before :-).

Hello fresh recipe 2 Hello fresh recipe 3 Hello fresh recipe 4 Hello fresh recipe Hello fresh recipe 5

I’m sure my wife and I will keep making use of the Hello Fresh services some more. BTW Hello is very spread out as it delivers in Australia, UK, USA, Austria, Germany and obviously Belgium and  The Netherlands.


That is what a brother is for…

I’m pretty sure I’ve already told you guys but in I haven’t… I have 1 older brother who besides being a great brother is also one of my best friends! When it comes to food my brother is as fanatic (if not more) about food than I am with the only difference that I’m open for all kinds of food and for him it has to be Italian food/wine :-). FYI, to my opinion he also is a better cook than me… (he cooks just like my beloved zia Livia – I’m pretty sure when he’ll read this he’ll have a giant smile for me saying this) Therefore I also from time to time ask him for some cooking tips. Earlier this week for example I was telling him I still had some ricotta and wasn’t sure what to make with it and that I didn’t feel like making the usual stuffed spinach and ricotta crespelle or cannelloni… So after him giving a few options that didn’t really float my boat (I’m not difficult in case you’re wondering) he advised me to go the “Giallo Zafferano” website. For me this website is definitely the discovery of the year!!

Giallo zafferano

You can just enter a main ingredient that you feel like cooking with for example(or my case I had left) and the website gives you an enormous list of recipes. Recipes that are easy to make for everybody (even for the non-Italian speakers), they are explained in an easy ways and are included with instructive pictures and sometimes even a video… For the Italian speakers, I think with some help of google translate you’ll be able to figure out all ingredients). Also once you opened a recipe they also give you a few alternative recipes or recipes that are alike…

Giallo zafferano (search)

In case you are wondering I made the Lasagna alla ricotta, I did add some cooked ham (also leftover) which wasn’t part of the original recipe…

Giallo zafferano recipe

Giallo zafferano recipe preperation

I hope you’ll find the website as useful as I did!!

Dinner without thinking and going to the supermarket


I’m sure you guys are all anxious to know more about the birthday weekend I had planned for my fiancée, but for that you’ll have to have another day of patience.

I first want to tell you more about “Smartmat”. Smartmat is a “concept” founded in 2007 in Sweden by a woman called Kicki Theander. The concept existed out of shopping bags filled with ingredients to deliver at people’s homes… I bet you are now thinking “there already exist lots of initiatives and concepts like this”. Yes, which is indeed true, but what makes Smartmat ‘s way more interesting is that they also include very easy to use recipes for these ingredients. Also important to know is that by the end of the week you’ve used up all the ingredients (except maybe some garlic gloves), so you won’t have to worry about leftover ingredients.

A while ago a man called Anders Åsarby who according to his name you can already expect he’s Swedish, thought this might also be a very nice concept to bring to Belgium (as he’s already living here for 20years). So together with Kicki and Dirk De Maeyer they started thinking how they would be able to launch and get this concept going in Belgium. I can say they did a REALLY good job as this is a well thought true concept!! (from the portions, to using everything that is in the bag as the easy to use recipes)

It was actually a friend of mine (Stephanie) who had brought my attention to the existence of Smartmat and I’m glad she did 🙂 :-). The reason for it, well I think the most asked question in every household around the world is “what are we going to eat tonight” (it drives my fiancée crazy). Smartmat actually solves this problem for you as you just subscribe via the Smartmat  website, decide the way you would like to pay, the times you which to receive a package (every week, every 2 weeks, etc…) and don’t forget to mention allergies, after that Smartmat  does all the thinking for you. Every week they put together a package of ingredients for a week (including vegetables, meat fish, …), add the recipes how to prepare the dishes (explained in around 7 easy steps) and get them to you in the beginning of the  week (after working hours + they let you know day before at what hour they’ll pass by). Only one thing for you left to do and this is preparing the dish. Again, it is very well and easily explained, everybody could do it… I feel like specifying a name, but that’ll only get me into trouble, so let’s just call it “people who can’t cook” could even prepare it. There is indeed a list of ingredients you have to foresee at home (like salt & pepper), but find the list here

So the beginning of last week I had my first package delivered

Smartmat THE bag

Smartmat ingredients for the week

The menu of the week was (and you have to follow the order they put it in the ‘week menu paper’ as some ingredients turn bad quicker than others…) BTW, they were all ready to eat within 30-40minutes

–          Lam moussaka à la Smartmat : This came with a rucola, carrot salad with a yogurt /honey/wine vinegar sauce

Lam moussaka

–          Fish with orange sauce and wild rice

Nile perch with rice and orange sauce

–          Spring pasta with porc filet

Springpasta with porc filet

All 3 dishes were nice, but my personal favorite of all 3 was the Spring pasta, after that the moussaka and last the fish.  The only reason why the fish is last was because of the rice, I only like eating rice with Asian dishes, otherwise it always remembers me of the million times I had to make calf blanket with pilau/pilaf rice and I hated that dish (still do).  I also prepared every dish how they described it (besides the pasta, but still only used the ingredients they provided)

weekmenu paper

weekmenu paper (2)

I really like Smartmat because they give a healthy menu that changes every week (some dishes might come back obviously) and I’ll keep doing this, every 2 weeks that is, otherwise the restaurant owners will start striking that I don’t visit them anymore  🙂 🙂

In case you do have some leftover dishes you can in that case either share them with “thuis afgehaald” or you can follow the indications that can be found on “week menu paper” how to freeze the dishes or find out how long you can keep them in the fridge.

OK, now I have tried to convince you enough , I do know that I always write a lot…. but when I like something I really get so excited and want to make sure I convince everybody and want to make sure I don’t forget telling something

P.S.: This is not for people who don’t like everything , as you don’t know in advance what you’ll be eating…


How to measure in the kitchen?

Last night I saw lots of very handy charts from ‘Chasing Delicious’.  These charts show how to convert volume, mass, etc…

I’m sure you’ve also experienced this  that you’ve bought a foreign cookbook or found a recipe on a website, and they are talking about “Ounces, pinches, cups, etc…” and you’re not sure what they mean by it.

Well ‘Chasing Delicious bundled almost all measures used in the western world and put them in easy to use charts. The picture below is just one of the many examples you can find on their website

Now you have no more excuses not to try those foreign recipes J (and I have to admit that on Chasing delicious website has a few good ones)

My very own cookbook

You might remember that I mentioned Albelli  in my post  about Christmas presents?  I told you that you can create your own cookbook, Christmas cards, picture books, etc…via this website.  After I wrote this post, I actually got pretty tempted to make my own cookbook 🙂

You can see the final result here:

Looks nice! right? I have to admit that from time to time I can be very lazy (I know hard to believe) so making the ‘cookbook’  needed  to be easy and not too time consuming.  Albelli is a really handy website to create a picture book + they have lots of examples that you can use to get creative…

I don’t like download things on my computer, so I was pleased to see that you had both a downloadable tool and an online tool to make the book . I’m not sure if they both have the same amount of possibilities and functions to make the book , but the online version worked really great.

In just a few clicks you can create an in this case, cookbook. You can add extra text fields, add extra pictures in a page, give a different color to every page, or you prefer having an animated background, …. The list is endless (or almost).

As this was just a try out for me, I wanted to see if I added a picture of lower quality, what the result in the actually book would be … (The system even detects the pictures from lower quality).

After 3 days I already received my book… I was really curious to see the actual result …

The fact that most of the people that have seen the book want to buy it, says enough I think.

Even the lower quality pictures turned out to be really nice!!

So if you still feel like making your own Christmas present.. this is your chance!

When cooking meets technology

You guys know that I usually go to the open air market on Saturday morning to buy my food for the week. It already happened that I bought a package of season vegetables  and I did not know what to do with some of the vegetables in the package … and as I’m at the market I want to buy everything at the market …

At that moment I’m really glad the Smartphone was invented or better the applications you can run on it. As you know, there are apps for everything at the moment. So in this case I like to use the recipe apps :-). You just fill in a vegetable and will immediately find a wide variety of dishes you can make … and this way can continue your market shopping

Me as an Android user, I frequently use the zesta app.

For the Iphone/Ipad user you could use the Njam app and/or zesta, because they both work really good. But if you are or will become a KitchenAid owner (like me), it will get even better! KitchenAid has created an app based on the kitchenaid cook book  with recipes from  Veerle De Pooter  and photographer Tony Le Duc. All Recipes that can be made with your KitchenAid machine… This  way you can even have a more refined way to look for recipes and make a more frequent use of your KitchenAid.  (and not only for Desserts!). What is nice about this app, is that you can even unmark the ingredients you already have at home, in this way you get a better shopping list…

The advantages of Modern technology are just great!! For non-smartphone users, you can still buy the cookbook or a smartphone 🙂

My Christmas present list: Final part

Here I am again. If these last suggestions are still not your kind of cookie, than I think you’re on your own.

Maybe you’re more into giving books? The book that actually has my interest this Christmas is one written by Paul Van Craenenbroeck “The magic behind the Michelin star” (I think it is only available in dutch and French). Paul van Craenenbroeck was a Michelin star inspector for about 22 years, who decided that it was time to reveal some unknown facts about the world behind the red restaraurant/hotel star guide. According to Mr Craenenbroeck, Michelin is a company that stands for French chauvinism, nepotism, incompetency, conservatism en bureaucracy… But I’m pretty sure it will not be totally negative, as he worked there more than 20 years. I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait to start reading it….

Cookbooks, well you could always look in my blogposts about cook books. Somtehing that I find important about a cook book, is that everything is well explained and the recipes are things you can actually make without having to buy a lot of new kitchen equipment. So basically it is important to actually open the cookbook before you buy it and don’t be influenced by the fact that it’s a cookbook that gets a lot of publicity, because this doesn’t always mean that it is a good cookbook.

For singles I would recommend the “Lekker single kookboek’ by William Wouters (yes from restaurant Pazzo) and Marc Declercq. For Vegetable lovers, I would highly recommend one of the Cookbooks from Frank Fol aka the vegetable cook

And for my English speaking friends, according to the NY times, these are THE best cookbooks at this moment… So it is up to you 🙂

Or maybe you’re more of a “make the present yourself “kind of person? In that case, you might wanna make a cook book yourself? Or another book? I’m actually going to make one myself. I’m going to make it via Albelli, because you can not only make it a ‘picture’ album, but you can also add writing 🙂 It is  like being a famous chef and making your own cookbook 🙂 . Not sure yet if I’ll give it as a gift to someone or keep it for myself 🙂 . I’ll show you the result once I have it. Let me know if you have already made one, I’d love to see yours. FYI here you can get some inspiration

Well this is about it I think… I hope you got some inspiration?


The missing ingredient

I don’t know about you guys, but I honestly find it very difficult to find cooking inspiration when coming home after a hard day of work …

The best source of inspiration and creativity is of course using cookbooks or magazines…  But everything has to go quick since you are hungry and just want one thing, quick food 🙂 But lots of times you encounter another problem when you finally found a recipe… You don’t have all the ingredients that are required to make it L I know I’ve encountered this already lots of times in the past …

What happens then, is I start using my imagination of what things I could replace with ingredients I do have at home and hunger is the best sauce to make you cook faster 🙂 These usually give me the best tasting dishes.

Let me give you an example, a few days ago I had bought a celeriac (knolselder) and needed to find a recipe, as I didn’t want to make a puree or a soup with it… So I found this really nice recipe in Weekend Knack special (Belgian Magazine) “cod with celeriac chips and choron sauce”. But problem n°1, I didn’t have the cod, but I did have was Pangasius… so I figured I’ll just use that.  In the original recipe for the Choron (Béarnaise with tomato), it said that I had to use fresh tomatoes… same story, so I replaced it by tomato purée  (which worked just fine).

So the Knack Weekend recipe à la Spinelli looked like this 🙂

Not bad for some made in max 30 minutes…

For the celeriac chips, you just cut the celeriac (after peeling it) like you would cut fries… put it in a mixing bowl, add some curry powder, salt, pepper and some olive oil. Heat a regular pan or you can also use a chip pan 🙂 throw them in and bake them as you would with French fries.

For the fish, you take any fish you want (sole, salmon, cod, etc…) it really doesn’t matter as this dish can go with everything. You can bake it in a pan, poach it or which way you would prefer for preparing the fish.

For the Sauce. Take 3 eggs (always 1 for the pot + 1 per person, so in this case it was for 2 persons) fill one of the broken eggshells and fill it with white wine (do this 3 times as you used 3 eggs) . Melt 250g of butter… I know it is a lot, normally  you won’t use it all. This depends of how thick you want your sauce to be (as the butter will thicken it). Put the stove on medium heat. Start whisking the eggs by forming an 8 (more or less) . You will see that the sauce starts binding, you know when it is ready, because than you will see that the whisk shape will stay longer in the pot…. Take of the heat and gently add the melted butter (not all at once, little bits at a time). You will see that the sauce will start thicken. When you think it is good enough for you, you add tarragon, salt, pepper, tomato purée and if you want some paprika powder… And voila your dish is ready.

Moral of this story, try to be creative in the kitchen… Don’t worry if there is an ingredient missing, I’m sure you will have something in your fridge or  closets you can use…. And no recipe police will arrest you 🙂

And then there was the day that my girlfriend cooked

Yes, that’s right, she cooked. And it was really nice! She didn’t use a cookbook, but a recipe from Smulweb. The dish she prepared was “quick cabbage with minced beef and yellow rice”, I know it might not look good or sound good, but I promise you that it was good (I even took twice). You can find the recipe on the following link.  She even  gave the recipe her own twist 🙂 She added some beef stock and some white wine. She did leave out the ginger. I’m so proud of her!

The result:

The day before I had made a “Witloof in de oven” or “Chicory ham roles in the oven”. For this recipe I used “Natural Basics” cookbook  on page 93. The basic cookbooks are actually the first books that gave my brother the interest of cooking… Good books for people who don’t have much experience!

The difference between this recipe and the usual “Witloof in de oven” recipe is that they add a little bit of cayenne pepper (to spice it up) and before putting it in the oven they sprinkle some sliced almonds on top. Which gives it a crunchy crust J Personally I didn’t find that the almonds gave it something special, but they for sure didn’t disturb me…

My result: