Nutrition Tips, Recipes

Healthy Cottage Pie Recipe

I grew up with cottage pie and it is truly one of my favorite dishes to make. It’s home. There is ‘unhealthy’ ways to make it and there is way to improve the dish and make it healthier. This is my favorite recipe that can be deemed the healthier version. Oh before we jump in, here is a little history or background lesson.

This next part comes straight from Wikipedia. Do with this information what you will. Shepherd’s pie (made with minced lamb or mutton) or cottage pie (made with minced beef) is a meat pie with a topping of mashed potato. The dish can vary widely within its basic definition, whether as a home recipe or on a restaurant menu. The defining ingredients are minced meat (beef for cottage pie, lamb or mutton for shepherd’s pie) cooked in a gravy with onions and sometimes vegetables, such as peas, celery or carrots, and topped with mashed potato. Whilst not traditional, a common addition to either pie is to top the mashed potato with grated cheese.

Wikipedia goes into so much more detail about the dish but basically it comes from The United Kingdom originally and it’s a meat and potato dish. Now that you know what it is let me tell you how I make it.

Ingredients

  • Mince (Depends on your family/portion size. For two people I use 500g. When I feel like spoiling my husband even more I will add some bacon to the mix.)
  • Tomatoes (Medium sized tomatoes. Six to nine. Depends on how I feel.)
  • Peppers (If I feel like there isn’t enough vegetables in the meal I will add one pepper. For me it doesn’t really matter what colour it is. I do tend to go for the orange, yellow and red mix.)
  • Carrots (I always buy the medium sized carrots so I use 5 of them but if you buy the normal large carrots it’s about two.)
  • Onion (I use one but only because I’m not that big on onion. This can go according to your taste.)
  • Garlic (I use one glove but again this can go according to your taste. Garlic can easily overwhelm a dish so keep that in mind.)
  • Bolognese Sauce (I don’t think the brand really matters. I just buy the gluten free one our supermarket has to offer. The bottle is 400g.)
  • Soya Cream (I always get the 250g cuisine soya cream the supermarket stocks but normal whipped cream should be ay okay. I just tend to stay away from heavy lactose products as my body sometimes struggle to digest it. Coconut cream will also get the job done.)
  • Seasoning (I use Rosemary herbs, salt and pepper. If I feel like a little sting I will add some cayenne pepper.)
  • For sweetness I add 1 generous tablespoon of apricot jam. (I use a 30% less sugar brand. I also heat up some water and dissolve the jam in it before I pour it into my sauce. Otherwise it can get clumpy and won’t spread through the entire meal.)
  • Extras: If I feel I need more vegetables I will add some spinach but I tend to stay away from that one. In my mind spinach doesn’t go with this meal. The green ruins the nice and pretty red sauce. Taste wise I don’t think it’s noticeable. I also sometimes add 3ml of vanilla essence for flavour and a squeeze of lemon juice.)
  • Potatoes (Good old normal potatoes. I always get medium sized potatoes. I go fifty-fifty with the normal and sweet potatoes but you can do this according to your preference. Sometimes I skip the sweet potatoes all together. Portion wise I guess is just make enough. It’s better to have too much then too little but if I have to give it a number it’s about 4-5 normal potatoes (only if there is a few small ones in between the mix. Really I go according what looks enough) and 3 sweet potatoes.
  • Sweet Potatoes (I always have the option between the orange skinned and the purple skinned sweet potatoes from my local supermarket. The orange skinned potatoes is orange when cut open and the purple skinned potatoes is a yellow normal potato colour. I don’t know if that even makes sense but all in all I haven’t noticed a difference in flavour although saying that if I have the choice I go for the purple skinned.)
  • Butter and (Soya) Milk (You’re going to need butter and milk to mash the potatoes. I use soya milk because well I’m sensitive to lactose products but I don’t think it makes much of a difference. I use 25g-50g of butter (depends on how I feel like that night) and the rest just milk. It’s better to add little by little as too much makes your mashed potatoes runny.)
  • Oven pan

Step by step

  • I always start off with preparing all of my vegetables for my sauce. I cut up the onion, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, carrot and then add it to my favourite large sauce pan. I then switch over to skinning to potatoes and cutting them up in small pieces (I want them to boil through quickly).
  • I place the potatoes on a medium heat and with some olive oil I just let it sit and boil.
  • I then switch over to my sauce. I add the mince and the entire sauce mixture like I explained earlier. The Bolognese sauce, soya cream and seasoning. I give it a quick mix (Over mixing it with raw mince breaks it up to a point of you feel like you’re eating baby food. I still want chunks of meat.) I then put a lid on it and let it boil for 20-30 minutes on a low heat. I will give it a stir about halfway through but otherwise I leave it alone.
  • The potatoes should be done in 20-25 minutes. I then mash it and please don’t forget to add your seasoning. I always just use salt and pepper. Nothing fancy. All the flavour you want is in the sauce. I saw somewhere someone using the water that they boiled the potatoes with for the mashing. I haven’t tried it yet but be my guess.
  • I now take my oven pan and I will up half of it with my mince sauce (If there is left great you have leftover for spaghetti tomorrow night. You can also freeze it for another night.) I carefully put the mashed potatoes above this. One big serving spoon in three different parts of the oven pan. The side and the middle. Ones I feel like the mince mixture and the potatoes mixture is even I will even the potatoes out with a fork.
  • For one last extra flavour I add a layer of grated cheese. You can also add a layer of crushed chips (original flavour) on top of the mashed potatoes and then add the grated cheese. It gives it a nice extra layer of crunch. It’s not the healthiest but it is oh so good.
  • Then you just pop it in the oven for 30 minutes (or till cheese is nice and crispy) at 180˚C or 356˚F for my Americans. (Sorry for all the grams. Google it?)

Annnddd that’s it folks! Here is a photo of my batch. If you make it and like it please let me know. I would love to see your response to it. If you don’t like it well hey we all like different things. Oh and sorry for the dark quality in the picture. It’s winter here and it’s pretty dark around dinner time. It also doesn’t help that half of our light bulbs aren’t working…

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Here is my husband’s review. I promise he is not lying for me at all (he is).

“Thinking back of this dinner on a Sunday morning makes me hungry, it’s one of my favourite meals! If you have not tried this you are definitely missing out. I especially like the variation with the chips on top, so the unhealthy one basically.”

Before I go the unhealthy version is basically no vegetables and using a lot of butter with your normal potatoes.

I wish you all the best and I will see you in a click!

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Nutrition Tips

My Nutrition Plan For 2018

Hold up. I’m actually writing a blog post about food or something nutritional related? What world is this? I’m just kidding. I have so much nutritional content I want to share but for some reason I just never really got to it. I always just want to write a story time. I can tell you one thing for sure, I’m going to be sharing a lot of food related content in 2018. You will see why in a second.

So the entire December I’ve been thinking of what I want to achieve in the year 2018 and what I want to do differently. There is nothing like a new year to try a lot of new things. To grow. You might have seen the no candy for 365 days for the northern lights post go up around that time if not, please feel free to go give it a read. Self promotion at its finest. Cutting down on sugar is one of my biggest goals for 2018. I got somewhere in 2017 (a lot later in the year then what I originally wanted) but I could do better. One of the places I really lacked was the amount of vegetables and fruit I eat. 99% of my meals for dinner does contain some sort of vegetables which is a MASSIVE step up for me but that’s one meal. I only eat fruit in the summer. That’s not good enough. So for the new year I want to try 1-2 portion of fruit and 1-2 portion of vegetables per day. If my favorite fruit is out of season then I just need to think of something. I still have some hints of the same picky eater of a child in me. Hey it’s one step at a time.

Drinking water is so damn important I’m not even going to touch that one but I’m not drinking enough of it on a day to day basis and that needs to change. I used to be so damn good with that one, heck I was in danger of drinking TOO much water. I’m just going to strive for 2 liters of water per day. I do seem to do drink more water if I have an app to put my amount in. My favorite app for tracking water is Plant Nanny. I eventually deleted the app because I’ve gotten every plant there is so it was less exciting but it took me nearly a year to reach that level so definitely still go for it! I’ve recently started using a new app, My Water. It’s doing okay. I did get a FitBit watch for Christmas and the app has a water tracker function so I will most likely end up switching over. You just need to find a way where it fun or exciting to drink all your water. The app is just nice because I get a reminder.

The next nutritional related thing I want to do in the new year is something I’ve tried on and off. Every time I do it my body responds to it quite well. I don’t know why it hasn’t became a habit. I don’t have anything against the taste or anything like that. I just need to start drinking it on the daily and eventually it will become a habit. I want to drink green tea or lemon water 3 times a week if not more. It just flushes everything out and it makes my body feel so good. It just clenches everything.

The last thing on my list is a 7 day smoothie clench. I’m not sure why this one is on my list but I know how it got on. I want to say late 2016 I discovered my favorite raw vegan Alyse Brautigam, the founder of Raw Alignment. On her YouTube channel she was doing a juice clench. I really liked the idea and thought it would be something nice to try out. I however would pick a smoothie over a juice any day so hence the 7 day smoothie clench.

Oh who can forget about the nutritional blog related stuff…I’m just going to try out new recipes and play around with clean treats. I’m not sure how great that will go but we will see now won’t we? May this year be as clean and green with a little sprinkle of chocolate on the side (special occasions for me)!

2018 IS GOING TO BE AN AMAZING YEAR!!!

 

 

Fitness Challenges, Fitness Tips

Challenge: Step Forward With 500 Lunges In 30 Days (Level 3: Third Wheel)

Do you like a challenge? This is a 30 day challenge where you start with a small amount of lunges per day and as you get stronger and more dead inside, you push the limits and do even more lunges the next day. All the way till you can easily do 500 lunges.

This is for someone in the third wheel of fitness. So if you’ve been working out for a long time now and really know your way through the gym this is definitely something to space things up for you. It’s a great way to challenge yourself.

Happy Lunging!

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PS: If you complete or join the challenge use the hashtag #fitcouchpotatochallenge so I can get in touch with you.

Fitness Challenges, Fitness Tips

Challenge: Step Forward With 150 Lunges In 30 Days (Level 2: Middle Luck)

Do you like a challenge? This is a 30 day challenge where you start with a small amount of lunges per day and as you get stronger and more dead inside, you push the limits and do even more lunges the next day. All the way till you can easily do 150 lunges.

This is for the middle child in fitness. So if you’ve been working out for a hot minute and kind of know a thing or a two and just feel like a change than this is definitely something fun for you. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and build your strength.

Happy Lunging!

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PS: If you complete or join the challenge use the hashtag #fitcouchpotatochallenge so I can get in touch with you.

Fitness Challenges, Fitness Tips

Challenge: Step Forward With 50 Lunges In 30 Days (Level 1: Beginners Luck)

Do you like a challenge? This is a 30 day challenge where you start with a small amount of lunges per day and as you get stronger and more dead inside, you push the limits and do even more lunges the next day. All the way till you can easily do 50 lunges.

This is for beginners. So if you’re new and just decided to make a change in your life this is definitely something fun for you. It’s a great way to start and build your strength.

Happy Lunging!

50 lunges 1 PS: If you complete or join the challenge use the hashtag #fitcouchpotatochallenge so I can get in touch with you.

Celiac Disease, Nutrition Tips, Story Time

I Have An Autoimmune Disease | Gluten Is My Devil

My first indication of a food allergy was around the age of sixteen. One morning after inhaling my usual corn flakes my stomach gurgled and I had to make a run for the toilet. The next day the same thing happened. Stomach ache and diarrhea after my bowl of cornflakes. Soon even eating my usual amount of cheese over my instant noodles didn’t agree with my body. I didn’t have any idea what was wrong or why my body was reacting this way. This was also around the time extreme and very painful stomach cramps and bloating appeared in my life. It was only every now and again but I can vividly remember a third of them.

Eventually I got the memo and started minimizing diary in my diet. Nothing extreme really. I didn’t have the knowledge or the interested to be honest to make big changes. It didn’t seem serious. So I can digest milk? What’s the big deal? I didn’t even know about the term lactose intolerant till I was nineteen years old. I’m not even kidding. Food allergies was an alien subject to me. It was around the time that I came to the Netherlands as an Au pair when I made the big switch. It was my first week here and my host mother asked me what type of milk I like. Out of a whim I said soya milk because my body doesn’t respond well to normal milk. I hated everything about the plant based milk. It took me two years to like it, but that’s not the point.

Once I started cutting out diary, the results were pleasing. Less bloating, less toilet stops but my stomach pain didn’t stop. It was something that I just accepted. I didn’t know why I was in so much pain which was happening more by the way but in my head there was nothing I could do about it. Eventually the frequency of the very bad stomach cramps got worse and the toilet stops raved up again which was strange as I really was careful with my dairy. It was around this point where I was learning more about healthier food choices and started to take note of things. Basically I was taking an extra two seconds to think what I was stuffing in my body before inhaling the food. It was a great turning point in my life. I was introduced to smoothies and vegetables started occurring in daily meals.

So as I mentioned before I started to get off track…my stomach pain wasn’t behind me and I had no idea what could be causing it. I started to hate eating. I didn’t know what I could eat without some pain and discomfort afterwards. No matter how hard I tried somewhere something in my food would make me sick.

One day my host mother and I sat down at the dining table and we discussed my health. She mentioned that she and her husband (they are doctors) thought I might be gluten intolerant that caused my sensitivity to dairy. It was the first time in my life I heard the word gluten. I had absolutely no idea what it was or what it would mean for my future. At first I thought: “that shouldn’t be so bad?” . I can cut out bread and pasta. You can’t hear my laughter but I want you to know that this makes me chuckle every time. Gluten is in everything honey. As a self test I ate gluten free food and the result was amazing. I was in no shape or form 100% gluten free but the little changes made a big difference. It was very clear that my body didn’t like the protein called gluten. I however didn’t want to change my entire lifestyle without knowing for certain.

To test if you’re sensitive to gluten you need to have gluten in your body. It makes sense right? I ate gluten foods for two weeks and it came very clear to me that gluten was the devil and it hurts me like hell. I was anything but surprised when my test results came through. I will never forget the day I opened that email. 28 January 2016. It was the day after I landed in South Africa after my au pair came to an end. Attached to an email from my host father was my test results. ‘It was just like we thought. You need to cut gluten out of your diet completely.’ By the 1st of February I was officially 100% gluten free or well trying my utmost best. It took me a few fails before I got the hang of it. There was a few slip ups with family cooked meals and my lack of knowledge of certain unexpected gluten products. Did you know even a chocolate can contain gluten? I sure as hell didn’t. After three months I knew my way around labels and had my set gluten free meals. I adapted. I’ve only willingly ate gluten twice after the 1st of February and both times I’ve regretted hours later.

The longer I went without gluten the more sensitive I became to the protein. Today products that may contain gluten is a big no and god forbid if we mix up the pasta spoon while we’re cooking. Or using the same toaster. It took me a few months before I wanted to know more. Am I gluten intolerant? Do I have celiac? Am I going to be gluten free for the rest of my life or can I eventually eat some of my husband’s pizza?

On the 1st of September 2017 I took my results to my new doctor here in the Netherlands, he could tell me nearly instantly that I have celiac. It wasn’t a big deal at first. I mean I’m already gluten free. I know by now what products are trustworthy and what slip ups to look out for. It wasn’t something new, but as the news settled so did the emotions set in. It was just like oh holy shit this is going to be my life forever. I always need to check and ask about gluten. I can never try the native food when we travel. It took me few moments to adjust completely. Now I can learn more about celiac and in essence get to know my body even more.

If you want to learn more about celiac then please feel free to follow this link: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/what-is-celiac-disease/

Links to connective blog posts:

How to go gluten free: https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/08/09/going-gluten-free/

What I used to eat at my unhealthiest time: https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/09/04/an-unhealthy-history-what-i-used-to-eat-in-a-day/

Nutrition Tips

An Unhealthy History | What I Used To Eat In A Day

Ideally a growing child’s diet should be filled with nutritious foods: vegetables, fruits, a good source of protein and etc. My diet as a child or well teenager was anything but a balanced nutritious diet. My entire diet was filled with sugar and junk food.

My day would start with breakfast before my body stopped digesting milk; I used to eat corn flakes with milk. Every now and again I would still attempt this because well it didn’t exactly clicked that I’m suddenly lactose intolerant. Otherwise I just skipped breakfast all together. The school day would start at 8am and the first opportunity to eat would be around 10:30am. I never packed lunch or anything to eat but I would go to the little pop shop the school had and bought the cheapest packet of chips. This was in South Africa and the brand is well known for its unhealthy additives. I would buy two and if I had money a packet of candy. Most of the time I would end up with a handful of candy and nothing else. They sold fruit; apples. I never thought of buying one. The second break was around noon and if I was hungry and had some snacks or money left my diet consisted of the same junk food as the first break.

After school I would go straight home and have my real lunch. I would pop in a packet of instant noodles. It’s so incredibly unhealthy. I can’t even begin to explain how much shit they add to it. I would not miss a beat. I loved my noodles.

Now dinner was never better. If my mom cooked vegetables I would not eat them. I just had the protein and carbohydrate. If the day came my mom wouldn’t feel like cooking dinner and I didn’t feel like cooking for myself I would go to the shop and guess what would be my new dinner? Chips, a packet of candy, soft drink, cheese (those yummy snack cheese) and maybe a burger.

Sometimes I thought about being a bit healthier and I would buy some vegetables, fruits and nuts but most of the time it went bad before I even considered eating it. It showed in my body. I never had energy and I felt sluggish. It was a horrible diet and I’m so happy I have that behind me.

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This photo was taken while I was in the Netherlands as an au pair. I went to the South African shop and bought all those goodies.  I ate it all in the same day. This was around the time I made my big turning point.

Links to connective blog posts:

The tooth fairy hates me. I have bad teeth health. – coming soon

What I eat on a good day | Healthy lifestyle – coming soon