How many of us have tried different fad food regimens and quick weight loss diets hoping to find a magic wand that would change our lives to be better forever? (Tweet this) I have. Yes, I fell victim to some of these diets once (or maybe more) when I was desperate to lose a couple pounds following each of my pregnancies. Some of the popular ones at the time were: lemon detox, cabbage soup diet, protein-only diet and the list goes on!

But the question is and remains the same: Do these diets work for us? Do we lose that extra weight and feel happy and full of energy afterwards as we should? Or do we often feel down, lethargic and continue to struggle to keep those extra pounds away forever? Unfortunately, in most cases, we feel low after “dieting” as we struggle to maintain the weight, we then easily slip back into our old habits, gain back what we’ve lost, if not more, and feel bad about ourselves all over again.

Sometimes changing the way we eat is not about losing weight, it could just be about finding a healthier lifestyle to make us look and feel good, and also to protect our bodies from nasty diseases. Lately, we’ve been hearing new trendy ‘buzz words’ like Paleo diet, gluten-free, dairy free and even going completely raw. I know, it’s very confusing. And while I totally understand that some of these diets are necessary for those with specific health issues, for me, it’s a very different story and I will tell you why.

Being a pharmacist, a mother of two, and a home cook addict myself, and with the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years dealing with different health issues, I thought it was important to understand and learn more about nutrition, so I started reading and researching hoping to find some answers that actually made sense. It still is the most interesting thing for me and I think it’s becoming an obsession now, to know exactly what goes in our bellies and how much it affects our health and general well-being.

Thus, with some self-experimentation, I started creating my own food philosophy which I think has helped me build a solid and happy relationship with not only my food but with the nature, too. I call it the “Fresh Approach To Good Health.”

There are a few simple things that you can change in your daily routine, which will help you maintain good health and will also make you think of food in a totally different and enjoyable way. Warning! These things don’t change overnight, but once you are more aware of them, you could slowly take small steps to change one thing at a time. The rule of thumb is that ‘food should make you feel good,’ and if it doesn’t, then there is definitely something wrong (Tweet this).

Here is how to start :

    1. Your pantry and fridge: the first thing you should do is declutter your cupboards. Get rid of all the processed, refined sugar-packed, and unreal food you have hanging around at home, such as packaged chips and sweets, ready-made sauces, dips and dressings, etc (Tweet this). Your pantry and fridge should always be well-stocked with whole food. By that I mean full of exciting ingredients that will induce an urge in you to create nourishing foods; these include a variety of whole grains and beans, nuts and seeds, fermented vegetables, natural sweeteners such as dates, honey and coconut sugar, spices and herbs, seasonal colorful vegetables and fruit.
    2. Buy quality ingredients: know your sources. Support your local farmer’s market and buy seasonal fresh produce straight from the farmer, instead of paying close to the same amount of money and buying products that only God knows how long they have been in cold storage for (Tweet this). Always remember YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. The quality of the food you eat always shows in your health, so be generous! Growing your own? Even better.
    3. Drink more water: make sure your water is filtered, and have sips of water throughout the day instead of whole cups in a short time. This way your body can make the most out of the water you drink. Cut down on sugary drinks, even bottled juices are full of refined sugar. Have an apple and a glass of water instead.
    4. You need salt: ditch your table salt right now and replace it with natural salt such as Himalayan salt or sea salt (Tweet this). They are rich in natural minerals and are actually good for your heart.
    5. Your gut health: a lot of diseases originate from the gut. A healthy gut means a strong immune system and vice versa. Having good bacteria in your food on a daily basis boosts your immune system, helps you fight diseases, and lose the extra weight, too. Naturally fermented food is the best source of good bacteria. See recipe below.  
    6. Eat less but more often: that means never overeat and never starve yourself! Eat healthy snacks between meals to boost your metabolism and keep your waistline in check. Always have a good nutritious breakfast which will nourish your body and provide it with sufficient energy while keeping your sugar levels balanced.  
    7. Cook at home more often: with a little bit of planning you CAN make your own food and know exactly what goes into your meals (Tweet this). It is the best favor you could possibly do to yours’ and your loved ones’ bodies.

This is one of my favourite fermented vegetables I make at home, super easy and extremely healthy. This one is inspired by my Egyptian background; for more recipes visit my blog www.afoodiesaffairs.com.

Red cabbage pickles

Ingredients:
1 medium size red cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced.
4 teaspoons sea salt, extra for brine if needed.
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds.
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds.
1 large glass jar (clean and dry).
1 smaller sized jar.

Recipe:
1. Add sea salt to sliced cabbages in a large glass bowl.
2. Using your hands, massage the cabbage for at least 5 minutes until the cabbage releases its own juices and softens.
3. Squeeze out the juices from the cabbage a few times to extract as much liquid as you can.
4. Add the cumin and caraway seeds to the bowl and mix.
5. Add a handful of cabbage to the large glass jar, pushing down using your hand to release any air; repeat adding a handful of cabbage at a time.
6. Pour any remaining liquid in the bowl into the jar, and push down again, until all cabbage is covered with its own liquid. See the note below.
7. Fill a smaller glass jar with water and use it as a weight inside the large jar to keep cabbage below its liquid.
8. Cover the large jar with a cloth (not the jar lid at this stage) and place in a well- ventilated and cool area for 5-8 days while fermentation is in progress.
9. Check your jar every day, making sure the cabbage is still completely covered with liquid.
10. Taste after 5 days: if the taste is to your liking then cover with lid and keep in fridge. If flavors haven’t developed quite yet, then continue fermenting for few more days or until the taste is right for you.

Notes:

  1. While preparing your cabbage, if the liquid is not enough to cover it completely, then make up a brine by adding 1 cup of water to 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt and add some to the jar until all the cabbage stays below the liquid.
  2. Discard any cabbage that may have accidentally floated to the top and formed a little mould. Don’t panic, it happens and that doesn’t mean you need to discard the whole lot, so long as the rest of the cabbage below the liquid looks healthy.

Author

Yossra Fadl is a pharmacist by profession, a home cook and a photographer by passion. She lives in sunny Sydney, Australia, with her two children and husband. Her inspiration for cooking comes from her Egyptian roots. Her recipes are a revelation of the Middle eastern and North African culinary traditions. Her kitchen is a place where she celebrates the good old way of eating whole food. To know more about her, visit her personal blog www.afoodiesaffairs.com.