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Saturday, 26 July 2014

When Visiting The Netherlands....

As many of you know, my husband is Dutch. I found this 'email' he sent to friends so wonderful, that I thought I would put it on my blog. They asked him for a 'few suggestions' on what to do while visiting The Netherlands next week. This is just him -- very thorough and thoughtful. So, if you, too, are planning a visit to Holland, the following may help out a bit. :) This is from his perspective, I take no credit for this other than having enjoyed some of these amazing excursions with him and our children during many a 'local' holiday:

Here are some ideas for a glorious Holland visit:

Seaside cycling/ walking/ resorts:

some options:

Middelburg/ Domburg/ Veere/Vlissingen

Very nice dune and beach, old fashioned holiday area, very popular. Stay in Veere for instance, rent bicyles there and 'roam' the island. (now not an island anymore. I used to go there on holiday as a child. We loved it. Women were still wearing the traditional dress (with white starched headgear witth gold pins in it!). Visit Oost Capelle/ West Capelle, Domburg, lovely towns/ villages beaches everywhere. You can certainly rent bicyles, sail on the Veerse meer, ride horses and totally relax.,3.660775,3a,75y,36.46h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sX0GbrDZExOCynVENyYjFGg!2e0!6m1!1e1

These are the images of the women in Zeeland that I remember as a child!

Den Haag/ Wassenaar. Katwijk, Noordwijk

Here you see the beach at the Hague. I could possibly arrange for you a tour in parliament. The images above are of the beach in the Hague and the 3 rd image is Wassenaar (north of the Hague, partially in the dunes) where we have our home (which we, of course, are presently not living in, at the moment). If you go there I can give you the address, if you want to see it :), and you can check out the area. Again a lovely area to bicycle. You also should visit here the Mauritshuis museum. (just re-opened!) In the picture of the museum, you see to your right a small tower. It houses the office of the prime minister. Here are some images of world renowned Dutch painters from the 17 th century the Dutch 'Golden age'. (Vermeer and Rembrandt featured: must see!)

Above a picture of hotel Duinoord in Wassenaar (Fletcher hotel), just north of The Hague, nice place to stay or eat in the middle of the dunes in Wassenaar (if you can get a reservation). We had my 50 th b-day party there with friends and family. They also rent bicycles and from there you can cycle through the dunes to Katwijk (see picture above) and Noordwijk, old fisher towns and now also beach towns. Katwijk is still very traditional (everybody goes to church on Sunday), Noordwijk is more 'touristic'. Both towns also have lots of B&B's and hotels. Hotel van Oranje and 'Huis ter Duin' in Noordwijk are the 5 star properties on the beach. In Katwijk if you have a chance try to eat on the beach in restaurant 'de Zwaan'. (great fish)

This (below) is hotel Belvedere in the dunes in Noordwijk: lovely and very old traditional place. I stayed here once and liked it. Best is to call them if they have room. You can also rent good B&B's in Noordwijk using

From here of course you can visit Amsterdam (certainly worth a day: the canals and museums. You should make a 'rondvaart', see the Anne Frank huis en the just restored Rijksmuseum. Haarlem is a very nice old town close by and also worth a visit.

By the way in Amsterdam:  a 'coffeeshop' is not a place to get a cup of coffee!.....and you have to see the 'Nightwatch' in the Rijksmuseum!!

In Haarlem of course you see the Frans Hals museum:

In the east of the Netherlands, I can recommend the area around Apeldoorn, Arnhem and cycle in Hoog Soeren and to the Kroller Muller museum. (see image below of the museum). the museum is set completely in nature, holds an important collection of Van Goghs and other fantastic art.

Hoog soeren is a nice quaint place to stay with Hotel Hoog Soeren. In Apeldoorn you will find hotel de 'Keizerskroon' (after the German 'Kaiser') who stayed in het Loo palace (see above) after he was ousted and sent packing. Below a typical farm iamge of the places you find in the forest there. You have to eat at the 'Echoput' restaurant. One of the oldest and most traditional places to go.

And young Daniel, when in Holland, if you get lucky, you will meet one of these young ladies ! Don't give them too much stick though because they will hit back!....(World and Olympic champions....)

I hope this gives you guys some ideas. Also nice is along the Ijssel river to cycle and see Zwolle (eat in the Librije...only 3 Michelin stars), Utrecht (beautiful old town with some nice places to visit or Den Bosch (bit more to the south, my old home town with a medieval centre.
Good luck planning!

warmest regards,

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Weight Loss...I Want For You What YOU Want For You!!

When people tell me they are going on the newest popular 'diet' or on some fad diet or they come to me and ask me to put them on such a 'diet', I used to cringe.  But, now, I finally, after ALL THESE YEARS, get it! I now use this information wisely, and more importantly, to the advantage of my client(s) to truly help them achieve what they want. For, I now know what they are REALLY asking for and want: to lose weight fast and/or as much weight as they can in a short period of time! You know -- magic -- the proverbial silver bullet?!  Haha! 

And, you know what? This, actually, is, quite useful. Quick-starting a good weight loss can really be motivating and a helpful segueway into getting people to follow a balanced, sustainable healthy way of eating -- for continued weight-loss (primarily fat loss) and, ultimately, for weight maintenance with an optimal muscle:fat ratio and a healthy way of eating -- for life.

I want for you what YOU want for you!! And I am open and willing to do my utmost to help you get it! :) 
So, I do keep in my 'tool box' some options for initial rapid weight loss:  1) a hypocaloric diet that I, myself, have developed based on what I believe is an optimal proportion of carbohydrate:protein:fat that affords a very quick weight loss result-- mainly fat loss; 2) a quick weight-loss plan based on and around proprietary products such as shakes, bars, soups, oatmeal, packaged snacks, etc; 3) plans based on 'diet' meal delivery programs; 4) plans based on whatever a client tells me is their 'go-to' quick weight loss regime -- even plans that include some sort of fasting period(s). If a client needs medical supervision, in any way, I make sure they get it. But, usually, I am totally involved in the short period of time a client follows such a plan and have 'tweaked'  any extreme regimes that are outlandish, crazy, or downright dangerous to be less extreme, more agreeable, but as effective, if not even more-effective versions of the diet, so medical tests and supervision are not necessary. Being an experienced, properly trained and educated RD(N) and longstanding member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association for the Study of Obesity helps...alot! I rely on keeping up-to-date on ever-evolving evidenced-based approaches and my large network of experienced colleagues, as much as I do on my strong background and long years of clinical practice and expertise. 

And I keep well in perspective that any quick weight-loss plan is a means to an end. The endgame, here, being that people feel good quite early-on and then, they actually appreciate balanced, healthy eating with its variety of textures, flavors, colours, and tastes once they see how boring, unsatisfying, and unappealing fad diets truly are! Moreover, people DO lose weight rather quickly with fad diets, but they are also quick to realize that these are diets that do not yield lasting results and are just not sustainable in the long term. Most folks quickly regain weight if they 'cheat' or even as I 'wean' them onto more balanced plans. The good thing is -- as long as they undergo these diets under my supervision, I prepare people for these realities and explain, up-front, the truth of the quick weight-losses  -- ie -- the 'weight' can come from water loss or fluctuations. And we work through this, together. A person is not left to feel they failed, yet again :(... or that fitness and a trim body is something they will never achieve. We also discuss the fall-out of regimes that are SO strict that they often result in people feeling lousy and often how these extreme plans actually encourage binge-ing. This cycle of fast:feast is so counterproductive, hormonally, for the body. It is MUCH better to get the necessary balance of carbs, protein, and good fats in the diet -- even when on a quick weight-loss plan. Depending on the baseline condition of a person, genetic pre-disposition, a person's age, sex, and level of physical activity-- certain people respond better to a balanced diet with a higher protein skew -- so I include carbs, but ONLY enough to take that craving edge off their appetite and to give the body what it needs to physiologically kick in the hormones that help to make that happen! Other people may respond better to a balanced diet, yet a bit higher in their proportion of carbohydrates, which, for them, works to keep hormonal balance and cravings in check.

A big goal of getting people to eat healthy-for-life is to STOP folks from thinking about food all the time! When people go on extreme plans -- they end up thinking more about food than is emotionally or psychologically healthy and, in the end, (with the help of, as I mentioned above, the physiological processes happening in the body), the self-fulfilling prophecy kicks in and people just end up binge-ing/gorging on food, caving in to cravings, and/or return to old weight-gaining eating habits because of all the ' food cue-ing' happening in their brains. The importance of having a good RD(N) supervising, when people are on quick weight-loss plans, is that we can help you to be aware and mindful of what's happening, and work you through the process until you succeed at the initial goal of quick weight-loss. We help in minimizing the rebound effects of spurious 'weight-loss' and help you keep most of this initial weight off, which maximizes the whole point of this initial great result, in moving forward to an optimal diet plan for life. We can continue to work with you on a long-term, sustainable plan for continued weight-loss, followed by an enjoyable weight-maintenance plan, until you are confident you have mastered your healthy-eating plan for life!

Working with an RD(N) to objectively assess, monitor, re-assess, and coach you through this process, can be the difference between lasting results and a temporary quick 'fix' that goes awry within a month or two!

So, I believe the services of an open-minded,  experienced RD(N), can help you feel safe and free to choose a quick weight-loss plan. Working together with an RD(N), you can make the plan work the way YOU want it to work and you will get the results you are looking for, but it will be a safer and more effective process than doing it on your own. Losing the weight and keeping it off will be a much more positive experience and will give you energy and momentum to be and STAY healthy and fit -- for life! 

If you have further questions or comments, feel free to ask:

Star Bene! 

Mary-Jo Overwater-Gervasio, MSc, MMSc, RD

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Dutch Apple Pie :)

There's a few birthdays coming up in our bi-cultural (half-Dutch) home, and, hands-down,  Dutch apple tart is the birthday treat they always want and truly appreciate! Well, at least the 'half' whose birthday is coming up who's Dutch and the other one's birthday who's got a great affinity for her better-Dutch side ;). Did you get that? Good, because I didn't! I'm Italian! I prefer ricotta pie or Italian rum cake any day!!

As I've been making Dutch Appel Taart for the past 28 years and could probably make it in my sleep, which, hot oven alert, I never would, for the life of me, because I don't follow a recipe anymore when I make it, I can't seem to delineate a recipe for 'jullie'. So I have found one that I'm linking you to that is VERY close to the one I think I follow:

Just some comments as I peruse the recipe link -- I sometimes use brown sugar for the dough and other times I use regular granulated, even caster sugar -- it's whatever I have in the home. And I also don't use 1/2 cup sugar for the dough -- usually more like 1/3 cup. It doesn't seem to make a big difference that I use whatever sugar I have around and a bit less than this recipe calls for (well, so far, so good!). I also like to add dried cranberries or Craisins in place of raisins, but I've been known to use raisins if no Craisins are lurking in the cupboard.  I do have to mention, it is important to use the right kind of apples -- Goudrennet or Granny Smith work best -- apples that are not too sweet, not too tart. But, don't tell anyone -- I have been known to use whatever apples I know I need to use up before they go rotten -- no matter what kind they are. So, the inside of the pie ends up being a bit softer than it should -- no one's complained yet!! (They better not!). I often add chopped walnuts or pecans, too. I'm also not too fussy about how I lattice the top-- I only know that it's important to keep plenty of breathing space for the apple mixture as the tart bakes -- never to cover it fully or tightly as one would do with an American apple pie.  No matter how messy it looks when I lattice, it always bakes out to look fantastic -- well -- considering that I always lightly dust the top, after the pie cools a bit, with sifted icing sugar or 'poedersuiker'. Oh, and if I have any egg left over, I actually just pour that over the apple filling after I've filled the tart with the apple mixture and BEFORE I lattice the top and, of course, before baking! I also don't necessarily sprinkle semolina on the bottom of the crust -- breadcrumbs or even some of the self-rising flour or even rolled oats (so healthy of me, yes?!!)will do just fine. But, if I have semolina in the cupboard, I use it.

 And here's what it looks like -- one I've baked earlier ;)

Really, check that recipe link out and make this soon! It's an easy 'pie dough' to make as there's no intricate rolling involved! You just need to press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pie tin. You can roll it first, if you want to, but it's not necessary. Same with making the lattice -- you can roll the dough first, then make the strips, but, honestly, I just press it lightly on my floured board and then make strips -- works fine! I also like this recipe because it doesn't require SO much sugar and it uses real butter -- hey -- sometimes it has to be butter! I've made it with margarine, too, but calorically, it's the same, so why not use butter, I say! It actually works better with butter. PLUS -- this is a treat -- remember?! Not something we eat habitually. Whoops -- the RD in me had to get that in :( While we're on that subject, you can add low-fat vanilla yogurt or even fat-free plain Greek yogurt :( on the side instead of the usual whipped cream (slagroom), vanilla custard, or vanilla ice cream :)

Enjoy! :)

Tot Ziens!
xo MJ

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The wisdom in happiness

One of my great kids just sent me this article:

It's so cool having one of your children caring enough about you that they want you to know what's up in the world re: how to be happy.   

THAT makes me happy! :)

I do agree with points made in the article -- alot of it is true,  
especially being thankful and spending more time with people you WANT to be around, not people who make us feel bad about ourselves.  But, through the course of my life, it's become abundantly clear that it's sometimes necessary to spend time with people who make us feel bad. So,  I've learned to really try to see as much of the good in these people as I possibly can -- well, as long as I have to be with them. For years, I just put up a front and cried in secret or comfort ate while still thinking how mean or nudgy they were to me. Now, I just try to accept people the way they are. I'm not going to change them nor will confronting them really change them or what they think of me. But I CAN change how I feel about them or how I feel what it's like being around them and how it affects me.

And that's what I wrote back to my daughter. She answered me that this was a really wise comment and she will work on doing this, too.  

THAT made me happy!

I also told her to make a nice cup of  hot tea and to stay warm!

These are the beautiful moments that keep me going!

xo MJ

Monday, 6 January 2014

Cupboard Soup: Nutrish&Delish!

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of going to the shops and spending money. OK, that's code for not having money at the moment to shop--ha! Even though, I was frugal and sensible on my food shopping and splurges over the holidays, I still ended up cooking and baking more than usual. I like to do both, but I was determined to not gain my hard-earned lost pounds over the feast days, thus, I chose to not overdo stocking up on too many ingredients to make and bake too many rich meals and treats. The family didn't even notice! They were just as happy, if not more appreciative of the couple specialties we DID enjoy and we are so thankful to start the new year feeling healthy and ready to keep up the momentum! With both my husband and myself having a genetic predisposition to obesity, and thus, my children having that double-whammy legacy (sorry, guys!), we all really have to work at it in this house! Being an RD, I take on the extra responsibility of trying to set a good example. I always tell my children, too, that we have to look at the positive aspects of our reality -- that is -- we are the chosen -- those who MUST be careful and selective about our food intake and, in the end, we choose wisely and most deliciously and really appreciate and enjoy eating, food, treats, etc, and keep all in perspective. Do my kids buy it? Well, they get it, for sure, but they feel screwed -- haha! Like it did me, I think it will take another 25+ years for them to truly appreciate how ahead of the curve and our time we all are! Yep, real visionaries -- trendsetters -- that's us!

So, this morning -- the day after the particularly long holiday break, imo, I'm snooping into my fridge and cupboards for my usual Monday morning inventory check before I head out to the grocery store, and I see the following:

1/2 of a 500g bag of dried yellow split-peas (so, about 250g dried split-peas -- these are the kind Indians make dhal with)
3 carrot sticks
3 celery sticks
3 small onions
5 wandering cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
8 small vine-tomatoes
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves

and I get to thinking, "Why go shopping? With all this cornucopia in the home ;), I'm making Cupboard Soup!!"  OK, I didn't call it 'Cupboard Soup' at that moment, but I did soak the split-peas for a couple hours (it says this was not necessary, but I still do it to rinse off some of the excess starch anyway), put them in a soup pot covered with cold water (about 1 1/2 liters -- you can add more or less depending on whether you want a thick or 'soupy' soup), bring to the boil, lower to a gentle boil for 10 minutes (to 'de-gas' the split-peas) and then add a bay leaf, and lower further to a simmer for about an hour. At this point I added an organic chicken stock-cube, but you can add any stock you want (or stock gel or best to add is homemade stock, if you have it!). I chopped up the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sauteed them till soft (about 12-15 minutes) in olive oil, chopped up the vine tomatoes and roasted them in a hot oven till slightly charred, and then mixed the softened vegetables and the tomatoes into the split-peas while simmering and simmered for another 20 minutes. While the soup was simmering this extra 20 minutes, I tipped in the 1/2 bag of baby spinach leaves (they were pre-washed, otherwise, I would've washed them), chopped and added the parsley, seasoned with salt&pepper to taste, and also added about 1/2 tsp of dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried oregano. And.....Voila! I have tonight's meal -- Cupboard Soup! I usually sprinkle some fresh-grated parmesean cheese over before serving and, for those of us in the home who want it ( I want it, but I forego it as I am 50+ and have to watch my carb intake -- lucky me!!), a toasted slice of whole-grain bread or a whole-grain cracker or two and the meal is complete!

And the best part -- I didn't spend a red pence today!!!! Bring it on, Tuesday ;)

Happy HEALTHY New Year, Everyone!

xo, MJ, RD