What’s Your Word for 2016?

Word-of-the-Year 2016

I love the feeling of freshness and possibility that comes with ending a year and beginning a new one. Even though this is often the busiest time of the year, I find it is the ideal time to pause and reflect. To think about what you want your life to be about in the coming year.

I got very reflective in this lengthy post looking back on 2015, a year full of both shifts and stuckness for me.

And because I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, for the past three years, I have been coming up with a Word of the Year.

Word of the Year can inspire and guide choices + actions throughout the year.

Here’s how it works: Take a moment to think about this coming year. 366 days laid out before you, waiting to be lived (it’s a leap year so we even get one extra day!).

If you could fill these 366 days in any way you want, what would your heart’s deepest desires for the way we want to interact with the world, other people and yourself be?

In other words…

What do you want to stand for across these 366 days?

How do you want to behave?

What sort of person do you want to be? 

And what word best summarizes this image of you? 

When it comes to thoughts, feelings and actions, can you guess what we have most control over? Our actions. We can spend a lot of energy trying to suppress thoughts or feelings or even trying to change them…yet the reality is we can already take the action we want, even with thoughts telling us the exact opposite and even when we don’t feel ready or are scared. So for example, it is possible to give a great speech DESPITE your mind telling you You’re not good enough and You’re not ready and despite not feeling confident at all.

In fact, taking action towards what matters to you despite having ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings is at the heart of becoming the person you want to be. Even if it might feel forced in the beginning. Even if you have to fake it until you become it. Willingness to feel discomfort or becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable in the service of what matters to you is one of the best kept secrets to change and growth.

So this year I would like to suggest finding an ACTION word of the year.

A word that inspires you to take action and not just dream about the person you would like to be. A word that pushes you out of your comfort zone and into the world, even if this means taking only a teeny tiny step at a time. Once you have your action word, try to think of how you plan on taking small steps every day towards this word.

My action word this year is VITALITY.

The way I plan on acting on acting on VITALITY is:

♥ By turning towards my emotions, both the pleasant and not so pleasant ones, so that I am fully open to life. According to Steve Hayes, the founder of ACT, “There’s as much life in a moment of pain as a moment of joy” and I want to be open to the full spectrum of living.

♥ By moving beyond my comfort zone both professionally and personally and choosing to greet fear as a sign of growth.

♥ By making choices that lead to a sense of VITALITY, such as nourishing foods, movement, meditation and activities that inspire me.

♥ By following my curiosity and seeing where this leads instead of overanalysing or being too cautious or trying to plan things out too much.

I would love to hear from you: What is YOUR action word of the year? And what are some actions you can take in the next 366 days to live in line with this word?

2015: A Year of Subtle Shifts + Stuckness

thank you 2015

As we wind down on 2015 I want to say: Wow. What a year.

This was a year of big yet subtle shifts. A year where I launched new endeavours, finished others…and also spent a good part of the year feeling stuck.

Hello, Online World!

This was the year I entered the online world through eCourses. The Mindful Eating Experiment was the first – a simple email program with one action step every week designed to help create more mindful eating habits. At the end of the summer, I launched Healthy in a Hurry – a 7 week course on creative meal planning. I got such fantastic feedback from participants that I am launching a second round on 14 January  2016. I also created the free Breakfast Experiment that can be done anytime.

online programsI was even interviewed (in French) by a Geneva web agency and revealed my secrets to an online-ish business.

More food experimenting + writing

I experimented with an elimination diet that cut out gluten, dairy and soy. Based on my experience, I wrote an article on surviving gluten-free in Geneva for knowitall.ch.

I also published an intensely personal article on the Huffington post and one of my favorite articles so far on 6 words to transform healthy eating – a mind shift that has made all the difference when it comes to eliminating certain foods for health reasons as I did this year.

My most popular recipes this year include:

Food 2015

Recipes: Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry YoghurtBetter Than Bircher Muesli Fruity Chia BowlSweet Potato Hummus and Quinoa or Millet Crust Pizza.

Sharing the love

Last year, I held workshops or group sessions every 2-3 weeks. This year, I wanted to focus more on online programs and individual sessions.

So the few events I did were collaborations with Sagana Coconut Sweetener, a women’s group on Internations, a UN agency, several events with Katia of Nia Dance and was honored to be part of my first retreat with Samiel.

workshops 2015

During these events, I covered topics as diverse as sugar cravings, sensuous eating, hummus-making, smoothie demo, raw chocolate demo and intuitive cooking.

Although workshops are always a little stressful for me, I really enjoy interacting with you guys there.

I love you, ACT…and you also freak me out

photo-20This year, I finished my intense supervision in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or Training (ACT), a mindfulness-based behavioral therapy. I also went to the annual ACT conference in Berlin in July and fell even more in love with ACT and the community of people behind it. I even snuck in a mirror selfie when nobody was around because I was so excited about being there.

After all this was over and I could, well actually get out there and start using ACT, I froze.

I knew I wanted to use ACT, I knew I wanted to continue to a certain extent with what I was doing with food coaching yet I was confused about how exactly to combine everything and what to do next.

I was also freaking out because ACT is so.close.to.my.heart that I wanted to do it perfectly.

It made me realize that when you are doing your own thing, you’re never done with the whole vulnerability and courage thing. Yes, there’s the initial launch. And there’s also another jumping point every time you do something new. Every next step is all about willing vulnerability all over again. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.

I wasn’t honest with myself though. I didn’t admit that I was simply scared about taking this next step.

Instead, I went into full existential crisis mode.

So I took some time off, alone. For the first time. I discovered this part of me I had kept hidden away called my emotions. I connected with my values, what truly matters to me and what I want to stand for. I used ACT on myself, especially through a tool called The Matrix. I spoke to people. I took time to do non-work related things that inspire like yoga and reading and going to art exhibitions.

I finally got unstuck.

And it suddenly seemed so obvious: I wanted to do the food stuff mostly online and in group sessions. I wanted my individual sessions to be more emotions/Psychology-focused: Emotional eating, binge eating, emotions around weight loss and other non-food areas of life where people feel stuck. And I wanted to continue freelancing in market research because I also enjoy it and it takes some of the financial pressure off my other activities. It was almost as if I needed to give myself permission to work in Nutrition and Psychology and Communication all at once and be credible in each field.

After this experience, it felt natural to do a workshop around getting unstuck using the ACT Matrix – my first ACT workshop. When I told my mother that it had gone well but that I could already think of plenty of ways I could have done better, she told me: The first piece of cake is always hardest to cut. I had never heard that before and thought it was brilliant (who doesn’t love an aptly timed food/life metaphor?).

I also launched this 4 session pack (still valid) using a photo of my husband and I by the lake:

Get unstuck Geneva

The quote that spoke to me this year

This year, I really learned to live the questions, inspired by this quote by the poet, Rilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Books, books, books

I read lots of great books this year, my four favorites being:

fave books 2015_1fave books 2015_2

Almost done!

I wanted to share a photo that I think sums up this year well for me. I posted this photo on Facebook in March and I mentioned that this was the less glamorous side of recipe making. Instead of agreeing with me, people commented on the beauty of the mess and how it showed that something delicious was in preparation.

And it made me realize that change and growth is like this photo. Not very glamorous, sure. The transition is messy and often involves experimenting, throwing things out and trying again. Yet that messiness is real life. In that chaos lies vitality. And that’s what it means to be truly alive, whether or not we feel we have everything figured out or not. And maybe, just maybe, while we do figure things out, we can also live the questions.

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Thank you for being a part of my 2015. Here’s to a 2016 full of more of the beautiful chaos that eventually leads to this:

Raw Carrot Cake

Recipe: Raw Carrot Cake.

Quick Gingerbread – Grain-free + Dairy-free

gingerbreadI’m really excited. I finally created a healthier gingerbread recipe that is super quick and easy to make and tastes amazing! And even though I don’t like labels, technically this gingerbread is paleo, vegan and delicious, with very little sugar.

One of my favorite Christmas specialities growing up was gingerbread and yet I have always found it challenging to make myself. Earlier this year, I discovered Chestnut Flour Bread, and this made me think – why not create something similar using chestnut flour for gingerbread? Afterall, the taste of gingerbread comes mostly from the spices, right?

So I experimented with different versions of this recipes, using different proportions of flour and water and adding almond butter for a creamier taste. I then thought it needed to be sweeter, so I added a little molasses – make sure you buy quality molasses

The hardest part of this recipe is finding chestnut flour. After that, it comes together in just a few minutes!

Gingerbread

125g chestnut flour  – you can buy chestnut flour in any organic store or online in Switzerland here or here.

2 tsp gingerbread spice blend (see below for recipe or you can buy a ready-made mix)

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp almond butter (made only of ground almonds)

1 tbsp molasses

300 ml water

zest of 1 organic orange (optional)

German Gingerbread Spice Blend (Lebkuchengewürz)

This makes a bigger quantity that you can store in a jar and add to anything from soups to smoothies to yoghurt. Simply combine the spices in the quantities below.

3 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground anise

1/4 tsp ground star anise

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Mix all the dry ingredients then add the wet ingredients and mix really well so there are no lumps. Pour into 2 silicone cake loaf pans. If you are using silicone, you don’t need to grease your pan but if you are using tin or glass you do. The secret is to not fill the cake loaf beyond about 1 cm of batter so that it doesn’t fall apart.

Place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. Your gingerbread is ready when the top starts cracking. Take it out and place to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Download my Christmas Recipes eBook for more recipes like this one!

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Chestnut Flour Sweet Bread or Castagnaccio

chestnut flour bread

I find that one of the most beautiful things in life is enjoying seasonal foods – foods I can only find during a certain time of year or that my body mostly wants during this time.

My favorite season food-wise is autumn. As the days start getting cooler and crisper and darker, my body starts wanting warm, nourishing foods like soups and stews and roasted vegetables. Foods that are naturally in season like pumpkin, squash, figs, persimmon, pears, apples. There’s the sudden desire to add spices like pumpkin spice mix to pretty much everything and to make apple sauce. And finally, there’s my absolute favorite: Chestnuts.

The smell of freshly roasted chestnuts wafting in the cool, crisp air in the street, buying chestnuts and warming my hands with them – oh how I love this nut!

Yes, chestnut is actually a nut but unlike other nuts, it is very low in fat and protein and very high in starch. This makes it more similar to potatoes or rice or wheat in taste in taste and texture and also the way it can be used. It also has an alkaline effect on the body which is very beneficial as most of us tend to eat too much acidic food.

I discovered this traditional Italian sweet bread or Castagnaccio through a friend. She mentioned she had made a bread that was very quick to make and naturally gluten-free using chestnut flour. I was intrigued.

This recipe uses chestnut flour – a gluten free flour made from dried, milled chestnuts that is also naturally sweet. Sweetened with only raisins or dried figs, we don’t actually need to add any sweetener. The chopped walnuts add healthy fats and protein while contributing to the texture. The aniseed helps make the taste a little sweeter as a naturally sweet spice. The result is something between a sweet bread and a not so sweet cake. You can have it for breakfast or as a snack or even as a dessert. You can make more of the batch and freeze a loaf. And trust me. Once you try it, you will be as hooked as I am!

Ingredients

250g chestnut flour

35g raisins or finely chopped dried figs (that’s 2 dried figs)

350 ml cold water

15-20g aniseed (depending on how much you like the taste)

a pinch of salt

25g finely chopped walnuts (that’s about 10 halves)

3 tablespoons unmelted extra virgin coconut oil 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place the raisins or chopped dried figs in 350 ml of water and leave them to soak as you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Place a bowl over a scale and sift the chestnut flour into it. Most of the chestnut flour I have found is quite clumpy, so this is an important step.

Chop the walnuts finely and add them to the chestnut flour

Add the aniseed and salt.

Add the water with the raisins or figs and mix until you get a paste-like consistency.

Melt the coconut oil and add this in and mix so everything is combined.

Pour into 2 silicone cake loaf pans or a larger round one. If you are using silicone, you don’t need to grease your pan but if you are using tin or glass you do. This is traditionally made to be only about 1 cm high and it won’t rise so don’t over fill your baking form! Place the pine nuts on the top and press slightly with your hand.

Place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. Your sweet bread is ready when the top starts cracking. Take it out and place to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

You can buy chestnut flour in any organic store or online in Switzerland here or here.

I would love to hear from you – what’s your favorite autumn food? 

Almond Spice Latte

almond spice latte2

A few months ago, I discovered I was sensitive to dairy, soy and gluten and I have completely taken them out of my diet for now. It’s been 3.5 months now and the one thing I miss most is lattes.

As I have written before, I have a love affair with coffee.

Unfortunately, Geneva has not yet discovered almond milk lattes, so sheer desperation forced me to create a way to make them at home in just a few minutes.

Like the iced coffee here, my Almond Spice Latte uses a lazy version of almond milk made by blending almond butter made only from ground almonds with water. To that I add some sweet spices and a little maple syrup to sweeten. You can also make a plainer version with just the almond butter, water and coffee or even replace the water for almond milk. The blending action helps create the froth that feels quite latte-like.

2 tbsp almond butter

1/4 cup hot water

2 tbsp maple syrup (more or less to taste)

1 cup hot coffee

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp vanilla powder

Blend everything together for a few minutes then serve.

In my opinion, these coffee shops serve the best coffee in Geneva:

Le Boréal 

Le Fix 

Birdie Coffee 

Globus – the Italian coffee part in the middle of the food court

I would love to hear from you – where is the best coffee in Geneva for you? 

almond spice latte

Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry Yoghurt

non-dairy raspberry yoghurtAh, fruit yoghurt, how do we love you! Creamy, sweet with that little bit of tartness…You also masquerade really well as a health food.

OK, sorry to burst your bubble, but have you read the label on fruit yoghurt? Fruit yoghurt or yoghurt drinks or shots often contain artificial coloring, a high quantity of sugar or artificial sweeteners and thickeners like gelatin, corn starch, milk protein concentrate.

Yuck.

A better alternative is of course, natural, full-fat plain yoghurt without added sugars or artificial sweeteners. You can always add in your own fruit if you want.

OR if you want a completely dairy free alternative which is a meal in itself yet tastes surprisingly similar to raspberry yoghurt, try Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry Yoghurt!

Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry Yoghurt is creamy thanks to the soaked, uncooked buckwheat and hemp seeds. It’s sweet thanks to the raspberries. And it has that little bit of tartness thanks to the lemon. Once you have soaked everything in the evening, it takes only 5 minutes to blend everything in the morning and can keep for up to two days in the fridge.

And because of the mix of healthy fats, protein and fiber – it is filling enough to be a meal in itself.

Hello, Buckwheat!

buckwheat

Despite the name, buckwheat does not contain wheat and is actually a seed, not a grain. It is related to rhubarb and has a distinct nutty flavor that I absolutely love.

Buckwheat is one of my favorite gluten-free foods. It is super versatile as you will see from this recipe, and doesn’t actually have to be cooked. It is rich in fiber and minerals such as manganese, zinc, magnesium and copper. It is also rich in amino acids, including tryptophan – the precursor to serotonin, the feel good hormone.

You can buy buckwheat in most supermarkets and also use it cooked as an alternative to rice or quinoa.

The other ingredient in this recipe is hemp seeds, which I wrote about here. You can find them in most organic stores, just make sure you buy them raw and unshelled for this recipe. They are also sometimes called hemp hearts. I usually buy these ones – you can use code WIV403 to get $5-10 off your first order.

Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry Yoghurt 

1 cup uncooked, shelled buckwheat, soaked overnight

4 dried figs

300 grams raspberries (frozen or fresh)

4 tbsp hemp seeds/hearts (shelled/hulled) or cashew nuts

juice of 1 lemon or a whole 1/2 organic lemon if your blender can handle it

1/2 – 2/3 cup water depending on how liquid you like it

A small handful of fresh herbs like mint, lemon verbena or basil (optional, but adds a nice taste)

Method

Wash and soak the buckwheat overnight with the dried figs.

The next morning, rinse the buckwheat and figs and wash well before putting them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients.

You can add some fresh herbs if you would like a little more taste.

If you want a more chunky texture, don’t blend all of the raspberries – leave about 1/3 aside and just pulse once in the end.

For the lemon, you can either use the juice or if your blender can handle it, wash an organic lemon well and put half of it whole it the mix. Most of the vitamins are in the skin and it adds even more taste this way!

This makes about 4 servings – you can store leftovers in air-tight jars/containers in the fridge so it is ready for the next morning.

Do you love yoghurt? Would you be willing to try this alternative? 

non dairy raspberry yoghurt

Superfood Snack Bars

Superfood snack bars

I spent an amazing week last week at the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) World Conference in Berlin, learning more about the form of psychotherapy I use in my sessions, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). As I was away for the week and am currently on a strict elimination diet (more on that soon), I knew I needed something to keep me going in case I couldn’t eat certain meals or just needed a snack.

So I came up with these Superfood Snack Bars. Made with just dates, hemp seeds and coconut and then individually wrapped, they are practical, filling and delicious. My recent discovery is that coconut and vanilla are a match made in tropical heaven – you have to try it to believe me! These bars are also free of dairy, gluten and soy.

What on earth are hemp seeds?

Yes, hemp seeds ARE related to marijuana as their name suggests, but they contain virtually no trace of the psychoactive ingredient!

They are one of the best plant sources of protein, containing all the essential amino acids we need. They also contain both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of magnesium and potassium. The nutrient density of hemp seeds has classified them as superfoods – even though there is no scientifically agreed upon term for this.

You can buy hemp seeds in most organic stores, just make sure you buy them raw and unshelled for this recipe. They are also sometimes called hemp hearts. I usually buy these ones – you can use code WIV403 to get $5-10 off your first order.

Hemp seeds have a rich nutty flavor and slight crunch and can add a milky consistency when blended with water, in a smoothie for example. They are actually one of my favorite superfoods as they are super versatile – you can add them to soups, salads, pesto, risotto, smoothies, in baking etc and easily boost nutrition without changing the taste much.

The other star ingredient here is Medjool dates. Dates are a dried fruit, so the sugar in them is completely natural and they also contain minerals and vitamins such as iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, copper and dietary fiber. Medjool dates are bigger and softer than other dates and work very well as a paste.

In a snack such as this one, they lend sweetness while also holding the bar together. Make sure you have a good food processor (S-blade) to grind dates into a paste as they can get stuck in blenders.

Superfood Snack Bars

200g pitted medjool dates

55g desiccated coconut

55g hemp seeds

1/4 tsp unrefined salt

1/4 tsp vanilla powder

Blend all ingredients in a powerful food processor.

Place the batter on parchment paper and press it into a flat, bar-like shape. You can use another parchment paper on top to help flatten out the dough. Gather the leftover dough and start this process again. Use a knife to cut it into bars the size and thickness you want.

You can wrap the bars individually in parchment/baking paper and take them with you on the go or simply separate them and store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze them so you have them on hand to grab when you need them.Superfood Snack Bars2

Here are a few photos my favorite part of Berlin – Ampelman (the cute traffic light man) + a few photos of the awesome people I met there. Psychologists know how to have fun!

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Weight Loss Without Dieting: 6 Tips

weight loss without dieting tipsSummer seems to bring with it an obsession with weight loss, a desire to be in a thinner, more beautiful, leaner body.

I know the feeling and I also know that diets are sad and don’t work and that most people end up gaining the weight back a few months after the diet.

So how about trying a different approach for weight loss? An approach based on pleasure and kindness instead of deprivation and restriction.

Here are six healthy ways to lose weight without dieting – they may not lead to rapid weight loss, but the weight loss tends to be more sustainable.

1. Focus on what you want to eat MORE OF instead of what’s off limit.

What do you want to include more of in your diet? Vegetables? Protein? Superfoods? More regular meal times? More exercise?

By adding healthy foods and habits instead of focusing on eliminating unhealthy ones, it is easier and more natural to create new habits as less healthy options are ‘crowded out’.

Plus, one of the reasons diets have such a spectacular fail rate is because making food off limit is the best way to become obsessed with it.

So why not identify one small habit you would like to add to your life and start there? Start small and build up.

2. Eat as early and as light as possible in the evening

One of the ways sumo wrestlers gain weight is by skipping breakfast and having a big, late dinner right before going to bed.

If this sounds like you and you are trying to lose weight, try shifting your eating schedule to eating the majority of your food earlier in the day – this could work wonders.

Eating as early and as light as possible in the evening can help you sleep better, digest food better and wake up hungrier for breakfast, when your body’s metabolism is in a better state to handle food. It also enables the liver to go into fat burning mode, a necessary state for weight loss.

3. Slow down and listen to your body

Instead of trying to limit your food, listen to your body’s hunger signals.

Our bodies have an innate wisdom and eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied can boost weight loss without depriving yourself of anything.

This is exactly the opposite of dieting where we deliberately ignore cues like hunger (by limiting food or skipping meals) and satiety (especially on ‘cheat days’ or binges – which are always the consequence of some form of restriction).

Try slowing down and really tasting and enjoying your food. You might be surprised that you actually need less than you thought! By simply being more present to your meals, you can reduce overeating by up to 30% and you will probably have less cravings, too!

4. Bring pleasure to the way you eat and the way you move

If you force yourself to exercise or eat in a way that stresses your body, you actually produce stress hormones, which signal to the body to hold onto fat and not lose weight. So overexercising or punishing yourself with forms of exercise you hate is counterproductive to losing weight.

Move in a way that makes you feel great afterwards, that celebrates your body and everything it does for you, rather than something that feels like a punishment.

Experiment to find movement you enjoy. Experiment with healthy food. Fully enjoy EVERYTHING you eat, regardless of how ‘unhealthy’ it is. There is no point in eating something ‘healthy’ you hate.

The pleasure we get from food has been shown to affect how well we metabolise food and even the nutrients we extract from it. And we can only take pleasure in something when we are present, so practise slowing down and savouring your food!

5. Be super kind to yourself

You may not be where you want to be but be honest: Has whipping yourself into shape been a sustainable solution in the past? This is your body and it deserves love and care right now – after all, does it make sense to take care of something you keep rejecting?

Treat yourself as you would a friend – if you are not able to eat or move as well as you would like, don’t make it worse by beating yourself up. Guilt or feeling bad about slipping up has been shown to lead to more eating in an effort to soothe oneself.

And remember, that there is always a good reason we do what we do, including holding on to extra weight. Be gentle with yourself as you try to uncover these reasons, and know that you were doing the best you could until now.

6. Be realistic – do you really need a ‘perfect’ body?

Finally, I want to urge you to be realistic. Are you willing to put in the effort and sacrifice needed for a perfectly toned body? If you are not, that is perfectly fine: Accept this and aim for something that feels more aligned with your body type and the effort you are willing to put in instead.

I used to criticise myself for not having a magazine perfect body, especially when I first started food coaching.

When I dropped the struggle with myself on this, I recognised that I do not value this enough to make the effort and sacrifices needed to get there. It doesn’t feel kind to myself to spend hours ‘sculpting’ my body because the outcome (a perfectly toned body) isn’t important enough for me.

Once I accepted this, I was able to put my energy into nourishing myself with vibrant food that I love and moving my body in ways I enjoy instead of beating myself up about this. At the moment, the movement I enjoy most include mostly Vinyasa yoga, but also dancing, walking, and some high intensity interval training (HIIT) when I need something more energetic. I focus on how I feel in my body and how my body supports me in doing what matters to me in life, rather than treating it as a clothes hanger that needs to look a certain way to be acceptable.

Now I would love to hear from you:

What weight loss goal feels most sustainable, realistic and kind for you? 

How much effort are you willing to put in for what result? 

How can you start with kindness towards yourself as a way of reaching your weight loss goals? 

What are your favourite non-diet weight loss tips? 

If you would like to find our more about my individual sessions around weight loss in Geneva, book a free 30 minute Skype call to find out whether my approach is right for you!

SOURCES:

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, here, here, here and here

Embracing Summer: Tips + My 12 Favorite Recipes

Embracing Summer

For many of us, summer is the easiest season to embrace. When the sun is out and the weather feels sparkly, everything just seems to take less effort. To feel more light-hearted and relaxed.

Make time for pleasure

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the dominant element of summer is fire. The heat of summer gives us the warmth and capacity to love and be loved, to mature and blossom. This is the time to really embrace life fully. Spend time with the people you love. Make it a priority to bring more playfulness and fun into your life. Reconnect with the carefree feeling you had as a child.

This may sound trivial but it is actually a vital part of health – so much so that it is now being referred to as ‘Vitamin P’ for ‘pleasure’. So many of us feel we have to ‘earn’ pleasure – to work hard first and then maybe if there’s some time left, allow ourselves a tiny bit of pleasure. How about starting with taking pleasure in eating? Studies have shown that actually taking pleasure in what we eat can help absorb nutrients and digest food more effectively. And yes, this applies to indulgences as well. When we allow ourselves to fully enjoy every lick of that ice-cream instead of buying into the feelings of guilt, we actually metabolize food better.

So why not try this instead of eating with guilt: Buy the best quality food you can find and afford and allow yourself to enjoy it fully, no matter how ‘healthy’ it is or not. When you allow yourself to be fully present with your food, chances are that you will actually need to eat less of it than you think. With eating as in all things in life, being fully present in the moment is the only way of feeling pleasure.

Reconnect with nature

Spend as much time outdoors as possible. Walk. Run. Jog. Bike. Rollerblade. Whatever you choose, notice the beauty all around you. Take in the energy of nature. Go into a forest or a place with trees and just be still and listen to all the sounds around you, particularly the birds tweeting (they are the original tweeters!).

Discover a new fruit, vegetable or herb

There are so many fruits and vegetables in season – now is the time to discover something new! The farmer’s markets are teaming with in-season fruits and vegetables. This is a good summary of what’s currently in season in Switzerland. In summer, many of us naturally crave raw foods to counter the summer heat. Raw foods have more active enzymes that make them more ‘alive’ so now is the perfect time to eat fruits, veggies and salads raw. It is feels natural to eat more fruits in summer than in winter, particularly cooling fruit like watermelon, melon or stone fruits like apricots or peaches.

Herbs are also in season right now. Why not try to plant a some herbs on your balcony or garden so that you always have them at hand? Otherwise, next time you go grocery shopping, buy fresh herbs and simply add them to anything – I add them to my smoothies, fresh vegetable juices, salads, as garnishing for dishes etc. Herbs not only add a more interesting flavor to dishes – they actually have great health benefits too. Did you know for example that basil boosts the brain’s production of dopamine and serotonin, helping to improve mood – and that coriander helps the body get rid of toxins like mercury? Or that parsley is an excellent source of vitamins C, K and A?

You could you also try growing your own sprouts, one of the most concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, enzymes – true superfoods whose power you can liberate very easily in your kitchen! Get my tutorial here.

My favorite summer recipes

Here are some of my favorite summer recipes:

Perfect for Picnicswatermelon-salad_1-662x441
Sweet Potato Hummus

Watermelon Salad

Crustless Spinach Quiche

Super Fast Dinners:

Zucchini Crust Pizza + Raw Tomato Sauce

Creamy Avocado Pesto
Avocado-pesto

My New Roots’ Best Lentil Salad, Eve

Raw Desserts + Breakfasts:

The 10-Minute Revolutionary Raw Jam

Almost Like Ice-Cream Soft Serve

Raw Chocolate Pie

Raw-Chocolate-Avocado-PieBetter Than Bircher Fruity Chia Pudding

Drinks:

Better Than Starbucks Ice-Coffee

Fruity Fermented Kvass

What about you, how do you embrace summer? How can you add more pleasure to your life this summer?

 

 

Choosing Nut and Seed Butters + Toasted Sunflower Seed Butter Recipe

 

toasted sunflower seed butter

Growing up in an Arab family, I knew all about tahini or sesame seed paste. It was the magical ingredient needed to make hummus taste like hummus. Yet beyond hummus, I never thought of using it or any other nut or seed butter for anything else.

It was only when I started reducing my dairy consumption and getting over my fear of fats that I discovered nut and seed butters made simply from a nut or seed that has been ground into a creamy paste. The healthiest kinds have only one ingredient – the nut or seed, without added salt, sugar or oils.

Recently, I started making my own almond butter and it has become a staple in my kitchen.

Beyond tahini though, I wasn’t familiar with any seed butters. Until I started thinking: Could sunflower seeds become an interesting paste that I could use in a similar way to almond butter?

I had no choice but to try. I started by toasting the sunflower seeds to bring out their taste and make them easier to digest. I then put them in my food processor and ground them until they became a creamy spread. The taste is absolutely delicious with a subtle woodsy, even slightly smokey, taste.

This took about 10 minutes, with time needed to stop and scrape down the sides – although the length of time will depend on your food processor.

Making your own nut or seed butter is a lesson in trust. When you see how your nuts or seeds are being ground, it is hard to believe they could ever become a creamy paste. Yet in the kitchen as in life, we sometimes simply need to trust that we are exactly where we need to be – or in this case that your sunflower seeds are on the path to becoming a creamy spread.

Using Nut or Seed Butters

I use nut and seed butters in many different ways as they are a tasty way to add healthy fats and protein. They are also very filling, so a little goes a long way!

Spreads

As a savoury spread over crackers, vegetable sticks, apple slices or pancakes.

As a sweet spread mixed with a little sweetener and spices or cacao as in this recipe or in this chunky Nutella spread.

Sauces

Use them instead of oil to make a salad dressing: Simply mix with water and add lemon, salt and pepper or other spices.

Smoothies

Add a spoonful to smoothies. The healthy fat actually makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrients from the fruits and vegetables.

Breakfast

Add a spoonful to porridge to make it more creamy (instead of milk) or mix a little with water in a bowl and stir well to make a crude nut or seed milk for muesli.

I also make a lazy almond milk with just almond butter and water blended together in this iced coffee recipe.

A baked sweet potato with a little nut or seed butter and berries makes a very satisfying and filling breakfast.

Desserts

I sometimes add a little to dark chocolate to give it a creamy taste. This is absolutely divine!

How to Make Toasted Sunflower Seed Butter

Preheat oven to 135 degrees Celsius.

Put about 250 grams or 1 cup of raw, unsalted, organic sunflower seeds onto a tray and toast them in the oven until they are crunchy and lightly browned – about 30 minutes.

sunflower seed butter1

Leave the seeds to cool slightly then put them in a food processor at high speed. You will have to stop a few times to scrape down the sides.

sunflower seed butter 2

Like I mentioned earlier, when you seed your seeds looking like this, it really is a question of trust! You might have to stop your food processor and allow it to cool down before continuing.

sunflower seed butter 3

After about 10-15 minutes, all of a sudden your seeds turn into a beautiful spread that looks like this.

sunflower seed butter 4

And you are done! Store your toasted sunflower seed butter in a jar in the fridge and enjoy over the next few weeks!

How about you – do you love nut and seed butters as much as I do? Which are your favorites?