• Marina

Healthy Eating II

I think that finally I’ve reached my Zen of healthy eating and It’s time to share my secrets. 

For a year and a half, I’ve researched and optimised my cooking processes as much as possible. Using a mini-oven to bake and a steamer amongst other tools, when the timers’ rings my meals are ready. No waiting or staring at the cooker! 

I gifted all my pans because for my processes they really are not needed – In my view their use compromises the health of the food. They require oils and excess fat isn’t good.  It’s also harder and takes longer to cook with – and afterwards the core of cleaning is especially hard if the food has burnt.

I bought a mini-stove and after some practice reached perfection in the preparation of meat and fish. If anyone was not aware I was a vegan for many years and only re-introduced meat to my diet a year ago.  At first, my cooking attempts turned out ghastly, only rising to tolerable over time.  This was as much a change in my own perceptions as my cooking skills.  Now, I am preparing the most delicious poultry and fish in the world – in my opinion of course.

My research made it possible to obtain a balance between the amounts of cooking required to obtain succulent meat, combined with the best spices, to produce mouth watering flavours.

I cook the vegetables in a ‘double boiler’, water-soluble vitamins do not like the effects of temperature and air it’s best to cook with the peel intact. Before I bought the stove, the meat was also cooked in a double boiler.  However, the results were never as tasty and the unit was always difficult to clean afterwards.  In contrast cooking vegetables in their peel leaves the double boiler almost perfectly clean.

Most of my life I have lived below the poverty line and have struggled to afford to eat out, which terribly upset me. But there was a short period when I was able to enjoy such experiences from time to time.  But now, since 2019 my digestive disorder immerged, meaning enjoying a visit to the café with friends is a distant memory. My last visit was to a sushi bar; at first I did not understand what was happening because I had no problems with rice and fish. It’s now been revealed to me that most places offering ‘Japanese' food, add ‘fructose’ to enhance the taste of rice. Fructose is the archenemy to those suffering from IBS.

In short, ‘eating out’ ended before it started. But I’m happy to report this subject no longer has a sad ending - Now I have a meaningful meal plan and I don’t have the desire to eat badly cooked food in a cheap cafe. The feminist dilemma concerning ‘who pays the bill’ has now also been removed. Now, any social commitments commence after dinner and the requirement to find specialist food outlets removed. No cafes, no problems!

My recent hospitalisation has given me strong motivation. I’ve not waste time and between my episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting I’ve devoured all literature from Monash University for patients with IBS (they are leaders in this field), also passed training programs on the Coursera: ‘Stanford Introduction to Food and Health’, ‘Gut Check: Exploring Your Microbiome’ and ‘Science of Exercise’.

My awareness of foods has completely changed. Take snacks such as sweets and chocolate, I would buy them without thinking, sugar would act like an addictive drug - A quick pleasure that instantly passes resulting in tiredness. Now, I look at snacks and think about sugar, fats, caries, calories and how my stomach will hurt later. There are no more temptations because I know how bad it will be if I break the diet. In contrast I now look at poultry, fish, cereals, vegetables and fruits and think about how much nutrition is hidden inside these products.

I also have a new way of procrastination, when feeling sad I read facts on nutrition.  As a result, I’ve turned into a walking guide on healthy eating. In the description for the photo, I will now add different life hacks and product information. I hope that the post will be useful to you and brighten up our social distancing during this time of quarantine. 

8am Breakfast - This includes two boiled eggs, oatmeal and 80 grams of fruits or vegetables. I usually have breakfast after working out. I did not eat eggs for a long time, because at first I was a vegan, and then I was worried about cholesterol. Eggs are a nutritionally density food.

An average egg provides approximately 70 calories, 6 grams of protein. Boiled eggs also supply vitamins and minerals in significant amounts of the daily value; including vitamin A (19% DV), riboflavin (42% DV), pantothenic acid (28% DV), vitamin B12 (46% DV)), choline (60 % DV), phosphorus (25% DV), zinc (11% DV) and vitamin D (15% DV).

As for cholesterol, The National Health Service (NHS) United Kingdom has the following point of view on this issue:

“Although eggs contain some cholesterol, the amount of saturated fat we eat has more of an effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood than the cholesterol we get from eating eggs.”

The entire article can be read on the NHS website.

“I love nuts”, and when I don’t have a flareup, I eat them every day. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and good for your heart. But we must not forget that nuts are 80% fat and you should definitely monitor the portions. Eating a container of nuts in front of the TV is a bad idea.  If you say to yourself that you “eat nothing yet retain fat”, then maybe you should think about whether you are going increase in size. The norm of fats per day according to the information from the NHS website is less than 70g and exceeding this norm is easy.

When I was a vegan, from hunger I often leaned on nuts and avocados and went beyond the reference daily intake for fats, which is harmful to the digestive tract. Back then it seemed to me that nuts were a healthy food so eating more was good, a flawed strategy.

Nutritionists’ advise eating 50 grams of nuts 4 times a week or 20-30 grams every day. I weighed my dose of 30 grams and picked up a cup in which exactly as much fits. In the morning I pour one portion there and eat at breakfast or throughout the day as a snack using this method.

I often hear about intuitive nutrition, but the problem is that my intuition tells me to gobble up all the nuts at once. In general, I prefer a rational approach to nutrition. When there is a plan, it’s easy for me to stick to it, I know that 30 grams is exactly as much as I need and I do not keep the extra nuts available.

You can read more about the benefits of nuts on the Mayo Clinic website.

2pm Lunch - Turkey breast is my main source of protein; which I usually eat it at lunchtime. I like its texture, taste and nutrition density. In 100 grams of turkey there is only 7grams of fat (in chicken for comparison 15g) and as much as 20 grams of protein (chicken 15g). This means that you can get enough from a small piece of turkey while keeping fats well under control. Another 100 grams of turkey contains a large amount (20% DV) of niacin, vitamin B6 and phosphorus with a moderate content (10-19% DV) of pantothenic acid and zinc.

Cooking turkey is quick and easy. I buy turkey breasts, cut them and put the pieces into a baking dish, add salt, add some spices and then place into the oven. I then add paprika, black pepper, mustard seeds, coriander, fenugreek, chili pepper, thyme and parsley. The list is long, however I season to taste so it’s not overly spicy while remaining fragrant. Where I can I store all spices in whole grains and grind them in the mill immediately before use, retaining taste, aroma and their natural properties.

I freeze left overs and waste nothing. 

5 pm Dinner - Doctors and professionals recommend eating fish and seafood twice a week. For me, I choose cod, because it is relatively cheap and very lean. In 100 grams of cod there are 20 grams of protein and only 0.2 grams of fat. It seems that nature has not yet come up with anything more dietary and nutritious. I usually eat cod in the afternoon as I prefer lighter dishes at this time.

I cook in much the same way as a turkey, but add a slightly different mixture of spices; thyme, coriander, black pepper, white pepper, parsley and lemon zest all compliment fish.

I have snacks at 11am and 8 pm - I have snacks twice a day and I never eat after 8pm although 6pm may work better for you. During the day I drink a lot of water and three cups of green tea.  Although after lunch I try not to drink tea, because I have trouble sleeping. In the afternoon I like to drink a cup of dogrose drink and eat crisp fitness bread.

In the photo is eggs and oatmeal, the latter made with pumpkin and cumin. 100 grams of raw pumpkin contains 16 calories, and it is rich in vitamin C (20% of the daily intake, DV), moderate in vitamin B6 and riboflavin (12-17% DV). The nutrient content of different types of pumpkin may vary slightly, so be mindful of this fact. Cooking can reduce the vitamin C content of vegetables by about 60% and the longer you cook the more vitamin is destroyed. I cook it for 20 minutes, which is probably too long. However you may like it cooked ‘Al Dente’ which is better.

WHO recommends eating 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day. This is more an advertisement for healthy lifestyle than for losing weight.

In the USA and England there is a national campaign ‘Five a Day’, which urges people to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. One serving is only 80 grams; in all my photos there are exactly this amount of fruits and vegetables (weighed carefully by myself).  I have problems with fructose and dietary fiber and at some point I could not eat any fruits and vegetables. Now I have gradually reached the format of five servings of 80 grams which fits into WHO standards .

Read more about ‘Five a Day’ on the NHS website.

Carrots are my favorite vegetable for many reasons: I can safely eat even during an exacerbation, I love its taste and color, enjoy the price, and carrots are also very healthy. Carrots acquire their characteristic bright orange colour thanks to β-carotene, which is partially metabolized to vitamin A, providing more than 100% DV per 100 g. Carrots are also a good source of vitamin K (13% DV) and vitamin B6 (11% DV).

IMPORTANT: only 3 percent of β-carotene in raw carrots is excreted during digestion, this figure can be increased to 39% by steaming and adding vegetable oil.

Here's another fun fact about carrots from Wikipedia:

“The pro-vitamin A beta-carotene from carrots does nothing to help people to see in the dark unless they suffer from vitamin A deficiency. This myth was propaganda used by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War to explain why their pilots had improved success during night-time air raids, but was actually used to disguise advances in radar technology.  The use of red lights on instrument panels actually helped them see better. Nevertheless, the consumption of carrots was advocated in Britain at the time as part of a ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign. A radio programme called ‘The Kitchen Front’ encouraged people to grow, store and use carrots in various novel ways, including making carrot jam and Woolton pie, named after the Lord Woolton the Minister for Food. The British public during WWII generally believed that eating carrots would help them see better at night and in 1942 there was a 100,000-ton surplus of carrots from this extra production.

100 grams of corn provides 86 calories and is a good source (10-19% DV) of B vitamins, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid (B5) and foliate. In moderate quantities, corn also supplies dietary fiber and essential minerals, magnesium and phosphorus. I also adore its pleasant yellow color and always keep canned corn in the kitchen.

Raspberries are rich in vitamin C (32% DV), manganese (32% DV) and dietary fiber (26% DV). Despite the sweet taste in raspberries, only 4% sugar. The only minus of raspberries is the price. I do not pamper myself often, but when I do it includes raspberries.

Many people are skeptical about potatoes and don’t think it could be a part of healthy eating. Perhaps this is because most people consume potatoes as French fries, which contain high-calorie and in general are unhealthy.

But cooked correctly, they provides more than half the DV of vitamin B-6, as well as about 30% DV of thiamine and niacin. Potatoes are also rich in essential minerals that help build strong bones and improve the functioning of nerves and muscles. Large potatoes contain 1.1 grams of potassium, which is a quarter of the required potassium per day and about one fifth of magnesium and phosphorus.

 It is best to cook potatoes in a double boiler without peeling them - this way the nutrients a preserved.

When coronavirus pandemic began Russians panic bought buckwheat because it’s very important to us.  Russia prides itself as a world leader in buckwheat production. Growing areas in the Russian Empire were estimated at 6.5 million acres (2,600,000 ha). In 1970, the Soviet Union grew an estimated 4.5 million acres (1,800,000 ha) of buckwheat. To this day it still remains a very important cereal here. 

Buckwheat is one of the healthiest grains! Buckwheat is a rich source of dietary fibre, four B vitamins and several micronutrients, with a particularly high content (47 to 65% DV) of niacin, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.

Buckwheat is also a good option for people lacking in culinary skills, because you can fill it with water, leave over-night have porridge by the morning. Usually, I pour 50 grams of cereal into a bowl and then eat from it, so I save time on cooking and subsequent washing the pan.

Blueberries, like carrots are attributed the property of improving night vision, but so far no evidence has been found. Here is the material from Wikipedia:

‘In a myth, RAF pilots were said to have consumed bilberry jam during World War II to sharpen their night vision during missions, although there is no medical evidence for bilberries providing such an effect. One review of low-quality clinical research concluded there was no evidence that consuming bilberries improves night vision. Bilberries have been used in a variety of folklore and traditional medicine, but there are no proven health benefits or anti-disease effects from consuming them.’

 Despite the lack of magical properties, I do love blueberries :)

Kiwi is a champion in vitamin C. On average it contains 112% of the daily value requirements. Kiwi is also the only fruit that I can eat even during exacerbations, but of course, in reasonable quantities. One medium sized kiwi is about 80 grams. 

Cooked white long-grain rice consists of 68% water, 28% carbohydrates, 3% protein and a small amount of fat. It also contains 130 calories and a moderate amount of B vitamins, iron and manganese (10-17% DV) per 100 grams.

The nutritional value of rice varies depending on a number of factors: the variety of rice, the nutrient quality of the soil in which the rice is grown, on how the rice is polished or processed and how it is cooked before use. I usually eat two varieties of rice - white rice (usually when there is some aggravation in the digestive tract) and red (when everything is ok with the digestive tract, as it is heavier). From white rice I love basmati, it has such an incredible aroma! I can eat it without any spices. I like ruby from red; it has a rich taste with notes of walnut.

In 100 grams couscous contains about 3 grams of protein and 18 grams of carbohydrates. It does not contain enough vitamins and minerals, so perhaps the most useless of grains. But a good option is to gain the necessary calories if you are unable to cook another grain.

Another alternative to evening tea is evening ginger with lemon and cinnamon.

Most of the time I eat oatmeal with banana and cinnamon. Oatmeal calms my irritated gut and gives a feeling of satiety until the next meal. Two eggs provide 12 grams of protein for muscle recovery after a workout. This is my perfect breakfast.

For a change, I sometimes modify oatmeal. For example, in the photo, the oatmeal is whipped in a blender with a banana, which adds a pleasant creamy texture. I prefer Nordic oatmeal, it is enough to pour boiling water over it, which means you do not need to stain and wash the pan afterwards. When buying instant oatmeal pay attention, not to the composition, sometimes manufacturers add sugar there, which makes breakfast not so useful. It was not easy, but I completely refused sugar and other sweeteners and I am very glad about it.


In my less than adequate kitchen I use two main cooking tools; the stove and the double boiler. There is not enough space and they usually stand like this to save space, but when I use both devices, I have to move the double boiler to the dining table. I dream of a normal kitchen, but with my budget I will have to further comprehend Zen and content further with my situation. But I trust my example can show that you can eat healthily in any circumstances. 


I try to use reliable sources of information, but please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, so I can make mistakes. Information on nutrition facts was taken from the USDA website (the national database of food products created by the US Department of Agriculture). Dietary advice from NHS, WHO and Monash University.

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