OKRO SOUP with EGUSI

Okro or okra is a very FATLOSS FRIENDLY vegetable. Okro is low in calories and a good source of dietary fiber. The slimy mucilage substance helps to move food along the gut and eases constipation.

1/2 cup (80g) = 25 calories, 2g CARBS

If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, eating more low-energy-dense foods like okra can help.

Here’s how I made mine…

What you need:

One pound okro
1 pound meat (I use beef and smoked fish)
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup ground Njanga (crayfish)
1 tablespoon minced ginger and garlic
Salt and seasoning cubes to taste
Hot pepper (optional)
3 cups of chopped Spinach
1/2 cup ground Egusi

What you do:
Season meat with garlic, ginger, salt, seasoning cubes. Add onions and enough water to cover meat in a pot and provide stock for the fish. Cook until tender (~30-40 minutes)

Wash the okra, remove the tops and tails. You can use a food processor to chop the the okra to a coarse consistency or you can finely chop the okra into coarse consistency with a knife. Alternatively, use a grater.

Add the ground crayfish and egusi into the pot of cooked meat and cook on low heat for an additional 10 minutes.
Add okro, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stir for about a minute or 2 .

Serve warm with fufu.

If eating for fatloss, skip the fufu or limit to no more than 1/2 cup.

POULET DG (or chicken for the big boss)

This dish is a fricassee of chicken, vegetables, and savory spices. It is super yummy and a great way to stretch your chicken and make the veggies appealing even to the picky eater. The colorful veggies provide an assortment of vitamins and fiber as nature intended.

Poulet DG is a favorite Cameroonian dish that used to be affordable only by the movers and shakers!

When I have a surplus of veggies, I make this dish. You can never go wrong with Poulet DG!

Here is how I make mine:

What you need
– One whole chicken (pasture raised is always better) cut up into serving sizes
– ¼ cup olive oil
– Salt and black pepper to taste
– 2 seasoning cubes
– 1 tbsp minced Ginger
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro (or any herb of choice)
– 2 cups cut carrots
– 2 cups cut green beans
– 1 cup sliced bell peppers (the more colorful the better)
– 1 sliced onions
– 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

What you do
– Combine chicken, a table spoon of oil, spices, salt, pepper, onions, carrots, green beans and peppers in a bowl. Mix well and let marinate for 1- 3 hours.
– Heat the rest of the oil in a large skillet.
– Add chicken and fry until lightly browned
– Add remaining ingredients, except tomatoes which should be saved for last. Reduce heat and do not cover.
– Simmer, stirring regularly, until chicken is done and liquid partly evaporated leaving some sauce.
– If the pot becomes dry before chicken is done, add warm water or chicken stock by the tablespoon.
– Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes more.

It is usually served with dodo (fried ripe plantains).

If eating for FATLOSS, you may choose to skip the plantains and enjoy the DG with a double servings of vegetables.

REMEMBER: You are SHAPED by what you eat.

Make today a HEALTHY and FIT one!

QUICK and EASY STEWED BLACK BEANS

I find enormous pleasure in cooking everything from scratch, but I’m also a mom who works outside of the house. When pressed for time, I take all the help store-bought convenience can offer.

Canned beans is something I encourage every cook/mom to have in their pantry. Canned beans with no sodium, sugar, or other harmful ingredients added are a superbly healthy food choice.

Black beans area a good source of healthy carbohydrates. One cup cooked = 227 calories, 41 g total carbohydrates, 15g fiber and 15g protein.

Rinse and drain canned beans before using to cut back on the salt.

Here is how I make mine:

What you need:
– 2 15-ounce cans of black beans
– 1/2 cup chopped onions
– 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
– 1 tablespoon minced garlic/ginger
– 1 cup puréed tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons ground crayfish (optional)
– 1/4 cup oil
– 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
– Salt and seasoning cubes to taste

What you do:
– Heat oil in a pot (Dutch oven) and sautée onions and bell peppers until soft.
– Add tomatoes, ginger, garlic, salt, seasonings and crayfish and cook for a couple of minutes.
– Add beans and stock.
– Let it come to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes.
– Taste, adjust seasonings and serve.

I personally consider beans a source of good carbs. If eating for FATLOSS or following the “smart carbs” way of eating, limit portion to half a cup and pair with a vegetable like stewed spinach and a source of protein for a complete meal.

REMEMBER: You are SHAPED by what you eat.
Make today a healthy and fit one!

YUMMILICIOUS CARROT CUPCAKES

I developed my love for cooking as a little girl. I was barely tall enough to see the inside of a pot. My father (my hero) saw that interest and encouraged it as much as he could. He bought me cook books and would never hesitate to give me money to buy the ingredients I needed. And off course I always baked the yummiest things!! I really want to help ignite that passion and help develop that skill in kids as well.

My nieces came visiting and we (they) made these delicious carrot cup cakes.
There are lots of reasons to let your kids join you in the kitchen. Measuring ingredients is a great opportunity for a fun math lesson, and mixing and cooking ingredients shows science in action. But, even more than that, it is a bonding opportunity and a great way to create lasting memories.

Here is how we made ours:

What you need:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg or cinnamon
4 eggs (organic if possible)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oil (olive oil if possible)
3 cups finely shredded carrot

What you do:
In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients (dry ingredients)
In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, add carrot, oil and sugar (wet ingredients)
Mix the wet and dry ingredients.
Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Scoop in mixture and Bake at 350 C for 20-25 minutes.

When you bake your own foods, you can control the QUALITY of the ingredients. These are HIGH in calories. Enjoy with portion control in mind.

REMEMBER: You are shaped by what you eat.

Make today a Healthy and Fit one!

CABBAGE EGUSI

I make this dish quite frequently. At least once a week.

Growing up, cabbage was not popular in our home. My guess is it had something to do with the chronically insufficient “meat” in the dish. We all wanted fufu and eru or rice and stew all the time, but now I know better.

I consider Cabbage a SUPERFOOD. It is so affordable (cheap), so nutritive and super FATLOSS –FRIENDLY!!
Cabbage contains phytonutrients known as glucosinolates. These compounds are known to support insulin, metabolism, detoxification and much more. They also help prevent certain types of cancer like bladder, prostrate and colon cancers.

CABBAGE is super low in calories. One cup shredded is about 35 calories with <10g of carbohydrates and about 3 g of fiber.

One of my favorite ways to prepare cabbage is with egusi. I use a lot of EGUSI in my cooking because it is an easy way for me to add healthy fats to my meals and make it satiating especially when following a “smart carb” way of eating.

Egusi seeds look like watermelon seeds and are full of nutrients. It is made up of about 40 % protein, and about the same proportion of cholesterol-free oil. In terms of vitamins, it contains alpha-tocopherol, a component of vitamin E that helps in maintaining smooth young skin and good fertility.

Here is how I make mine: I use the “boil-in” method. It is healthier and faster.

What you need:
– 1 pound beef (grass-fed is always the best)
– ½ cup ground egusi
– ¼ cup ground crayfish
– 1 whole head finely shredded cabbage
– 1 whole onions, chopped
– ½ cup cut fresh cilantro (optional)
– 1-2 hot chili peppers (optional)
– 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
– ½ cup chopped bell peppers
– 1 tablespoon minced ginger and garlic
– Salt and seasoning cubes to taste

What you do:
1. Season the beef with salt and pepper as desired and cook over medium heat until tender.
2. Prepare the ingredients. Dice onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Peel and crush garlic and ginger. Grind crayfish and egusi.
3. Add the onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, crayfish and egusi and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile shred and wash cabbage. I nuke mine in the microwave to cook it when I am pressed for time. Otherwise, lightly steam it in about ¼ cup of water for about 5 mintues to preserve nutrients.
5. Dump the cabbage into the egusi/meat mixture.
6. Stir and adjust seasoning.

You can serve with plantains, garri, yams or accompaniment of choice.

If following the “smart carb” way of eating for FATLOSS, limit starch (plantains, garri, yams) to ½ cup.

Remember: You are SHAPED by what you eat. Eat REAL foods. Eat Foods that HEAL.

Make today a Healthy and Fit one!

CHICKEN PEPPER SOUP

Pepper soup is an intensely flavorful and spicy soup, popular in many English speaking west African countries including Cameroon.

The main ingredients are meat, hot chili peppers and a combination of spices.

This dish is believed to help restore appetite to the invalid and convalescent. It is also believed to help with milk secretion in new born mothers.

I consider Peppersoup a FATLOSS FRIENDLY food. Chili (hot peppers) are said to stimulate metabolism and reduce body fat.

Here is how I made mine:

– One whole chicken cut up into bite sized pieces (pasture raised, organic always preferred. That is why I kept the skin on. If using other (low quality) chicken, remove skin and trim all fat)
– 1 whole onion minced
– Chili peppers to taste
– 1-2 tablespoons ground njangsa
– ½ tsp Cameroon pepper
– ½ tsp white pepper
– ½ tsp contri onion (no idea the English name for this. It is called “mruh” in Limbum)
– Salt and seasoning cubes to tate
– A sprig or 2 of fresh Basil
– 1/ cup chopped fresh Cilantro (optional)
– Green plantains, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces (optional – I consider 1 plantain as 2 servings)
What I do:
In a large pot, combine chicken and all the other ingredients. Mix well and add enough water to cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until meat is done adding enough water as necessary.
Taste and adjust seasoning
Add fresh herbs and serve.

PLANTAINS:
– 1 MEDIUM plantains is about 260 calories
– 1 cup sliced = 179 calories, 48g of carbs, 3.5 g of fiber
– Green plantains gram for gram contain more vitamin C and Vitamin K than bananas
– Green Plantains are high in resistant starch which has numerous benefits including gut health benefits.

Remember: You are shaped by what you eat.

If this added value to you, please consider sharing.
Make today a healthy and fit one.

A Sustainable Approach to Fat Loss and Weight Maintenance – MHFL MANIFESTO


When people make a decision to lose weight, they often want the weight to disappear in a hurry. Forgetting that the body fat did not just all appear overnight. They want a quick fix. They go on a “Diet”. 7-day green smoothie detox, apple cider vinegar magic diet, cabbage soup diet, ketogenic diet etc. Well, any diet that creates a calorie deficit will work if you can follow it consistently for the rest of forever. The question always is “Can you do this for the long haul?” “Is this something you can sustain?” If you desire to lose weight and keep it off, you must craft a way of eating and moving your body that you can reasonably sustain as a lifestyle.

Losing 30 pounds from my heaviest was hard work. The last thing I want is to have to lose the same 30 pounds again. The thought of that just exhausts me. Sadly, I still see people go on a crash diet. They shed weight but as soon as they eat food again, the weight comes rushing back bringing along all its cousins.

The approach I follow and recommend is a sustainable approach to weight loss and weight maintenance and health. It is a way of eating based on wholefoods – that is foods the way nature intended them to be. I can see myself eating that way for the rest of forever. My approach keeps your hormones in balance and makes it easier to eat with a calorie deficit required for fat loss without the unnecessary hunger and without you always having to battle with cravings. All while maintaining the energy you need to go through your day.

My Healthy Fit Lifestyle (MHFL) manifesto is as follows:

  1. Eat meat and njama –njama (animals and plants): Build your meals around non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins. Enjoy a wide array of green and colorful vegetables. Make an effort to eat 5 – 10 servings of veggies a day. Healthy fats like nuts, avocados, eggs in moderation keeps you fuller for longer. Protein keeps you satiated. Fish and chicken are leaner sources of protein. I enjoy them regularly. I enjoy beef about once or twice a week. When I can, I buy the highest quality produce my money can afford. That is organic veggies and grass fed meats.
  2. Be SMART with CARBS: Limit grains. Limit starchy vegetables. In other words: eat like a diabetic. Carbs drives insulin that drives fat storage. If lasting fat loss is your goal, make an effort to control your carbs intake. It may be tough to transition at first, but it does get easier. Everyone is different but generally, for fat loss it works best to have carbohydrates after your workout or at the end of the day. ½ a cup or the size of your cupped hand is a usually enough.
  3. Avoid refined foods: Keep your diet as clean as possible. If it has an ingredient list, it shouldn’t be a part of your regular daily diet. If it’s in a box or a bag, proceed with caution. The farther away it is from nature, the less often you should consume it.
  4. Don’t drink your calories. A habit of sweet drinks, sweetened beverages and too much alcohol is just not good for you and you know it. if you must indulge, do so on special occasions.
  5. Be a “busy-body”. Sit less. Walk as much as you can. Walk fast. Walk slow. Your body needs movement as much as it needs oxygen. Walking helps with fat loss, stress management and much more. You should be getting 10k steps a day at a minimum. MOVE YOUR BODY!
  6. Lift heavy things. Muscles burn fat. Your body needs muscles to be efficient at fat burning. Muscles look good- even on women. You don’t want to lose fat and have soft skin. Lift weights including your body weight. Pull-ups, push-ups, squats and planks are basic movements to incorporate into your workout routine.
  7. Go hard. Incorporate some high intensity interval training to your workout routine. These are movements where you go so hard you can barely talk. This is great for fat burning. My favorite is with jump rope or running sprints.
  8. Track. Monitor. Journal. It is true: you improve what you measure. I am a big fan of tracking and journaling. If you set a goal, you must have a way of measuring progress towards that goal. It helps me stay on target.

A MHFL way of eating is not restrictive. A MHFL way of moving is not punitive. In fact you will look and feel AMAZING! You don’t have to implement all the strategies at once. Start small. Pick one and make it your own. Make it a habit. When it has become what you do as part of your routine, move to the next. Over a couple of months, you would have developed a diet and movement routine that works for your goals and your lifestyle and most importantly that you can stay on. For the rest of forever.

Let me know your thoughts!

Coach Yaje

THE BEST SKIN CARE ROUTINE

A couple of weeks ago, a very close friend told me she had made a decision to start taking better care of herself. She then proudly showed me this very expensive face cream she had to make a 45-minute drive just to buy. We made small talk girl (or woman) talk on how we should allow ourselves to spend the money on the body that works the money (#YOLO) and then she drove off.

I couldn’t get the thought off my mind. I called her a few days later to share my thoughts. Permit me share it with you too and maybe go into greater detail.

My friend above is not alone. Lots of women are spending a lot of money on their “rubbing oyels” and whatever else they apply on their skin or do to their skin in an attempt to look young(er). Estimated to be to the tune of over $200 Billion by 2021! We place a high value on how we look on the outside. We have very high standards when it comes to what we will put on our skin. At the same time, we kick and scream about how expensive a pound of salmon is, how expensive it is to “eat healthy”, how hard it is to take time to cook nutritious foods. But here is the thing: NOTHING will influence how well we age more than the foods we eat. Period. The end. I promise you that the single most effective and affordable anti-aging strategy or skin care routine is what we put in to our mouths. I am all for spending your money and taking care of your skin, but if we are not addressing the root cause of aging, the root cause of the wrinkles and sagging skin, we are fighting a losing battle.

The signs of aging and the rate at which we age is influenced by the quality and the quantity of what we eat. The face cream she bought can address wrinkles but it will not slow down the aging process. We make more impact working from the inside out, addressing the causes of aging at the cellular level.

Hormones and chronic inflammation have a lot to do with aging. The foods we eat are the building blocks of our bodies. Food provides the raw materials the body needs to make new proteins including hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that send marching orders to all organs telling them what to do. When hormones start acting up (because they are not manufactured correctly, or enough), we start to age. Inflammation is the starting point for all disease processes or break down in the body. It is also greatly influenced by what we eat. If we want to age well and have the best skin, we must keep our hormones happy and keep inflammation under control. That is the real secret.

So how can we eat so that we are creating a healthy, youthful resilient body and slowing down aging? I share 5 practical implementation strategies:

Eat to control blood sugar. We are eating way too much sugar. By sugar, I mean carbohydrates. One of the most common ways we trigger inflammation and speed up the aging process is by increasing blood sugar too much and too frequently. I am not condemning carbs, but we have to be smart about our carbohydrate consumption. We don’t need carbs at every meal. We don’t need to have the heap of rice plus two fingers of bananas all in one meal. A big change you can implement today to slow down rate of aging is to stay away from foods that spike blood sugar. I try to consume starchy carbs mostly after vigorous exercise or in the evening. ½ cup is more than enough for most of us.

Pay attention to the fats you are consuming. Specifically, reduce sources of Omega-6 fats and include more Omega- 3 fats in your diet. Omega-6 fats are the “bad fat” common in processed/refined foods. Think most things that come in a box or a bag. Stay away from oils such as canola, soybean corn oil, vegetable oils and things that have those oils. Coconut oil, olive oil are better alternatives. Omega-3 fats help reduce inflammation in the body. Good sources are wild caught fish like mackerel and salmon 2-3 times a week.

Fast every once in a while. More and more research is showing that periodic fasting can slow down the aging process. However, fasting will not make up for a bad diet. Your nutritional foundation has to be on point before you toy with the idea of fasting. I personally do what is called intermittent fasting 1-2 times a week.

Eat more vegetables! If you know me, you would know this was coming. Honestly, I truly believe that veggies are the panacea for everything! Eat a wide variety of colorful veggies. They supply the antioxidants that the body needs to fight reactive oxygen species. That is big book I know, but trust me you don’t want ROS running around in your body.

Drink more water! Enough said! Drink until your pee is the color of lemonade. For me that is about 2 liters a day. Find out what it takes for you.

Other lifestyle changes that really go a long way to slow down the aging process is sleep more and reduce stress in your life.

While we can’t stop aging, we can slow it down. I have nothing against lotions and potions and creams. My argument is that before we spend our money fixing the outside, why don’t we spend the same resources and address the issue at its roots. We are going to eat anyway. Why not spend the money on quality nutrition so we don’t just look young on the outside, but we equally feel young on the inside. Yes?

Let me know your thoughts!

Coach Yaje

My Yummilicious Vinaigrette

 

So we got the memo to eat more veggies. We are incorporating more salads in to our diet. In our minds we are doing well, except it may not be as simple as that. A salad can quickly go from healthy to unhealthy if you are not careful with the ingredients especially the dressing – the type and quantity. I still have memories of this avocado dressing from Chick-fil-A that was over 300 calories in one innocent sachet.

There are generally two types of salad dressings: creamy and vinaigrettes. Vinaigrettes are usually healthier/lower in calories than the cream based types. The findings from my research of the labels of 3 popular salad dressings support this claim. Per 2 tablespoons serving size

Calories Total fat Total carb.
Kraft Thousand island 130 12 g 4 g
Hidden Valley Ranch 160 14 g 2 g
Ken’s Vinaigrette 100 10 g 3 g

Side Note: this could be a good science fair project for my son Nathan next year:)

As always, I share strategies you can implement so you are not ruining your salads with the dressing choice.

  • Read the label if buying. Ensure sugar content is below 5 g per serving (5 grams is about a teaspoon of sugar). Total fat of 10 g or less per serving is advisable. Look out for words such as “Hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the label. Such indicate trans-fats. No Bueno. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. Words you can’t pronounce on the label are usually not a good sign.
  • No “sese” salad. My hubby makes “sese” out of his salad. I silently cringe every time I see him drench his plate with his favorite Thousand Island. I don’t say anything because he has made a huge improvement from the fufu dinners, but whatever dressing you use, you should drizzle not drench. Measuring the quantity of the dressing can be a good idea. 2 tablespoons is okay.
  • Nothing is free in FAT-FREE. Fat-free dressing may be lower in calories, but when they take out the fat, they usually replace it with other (not-so-good) things to help with the flavor. Enter High Fructose Corn Syrup – no thanks!
  • Make your own! Homemade is always the healthiest, best tasting and most cost effective option in my opinion. You get to control the quality of the ingredients if you make your own.

Ever since I discovered this vinaigrette recipe, the frequency of my consumption of salads has increased significantly. It is super easy to make. With an empty jar and a few ingredients, you probably may already have in the pantry, you can whip up this “Yummilicious” dressing in a jiffy anytime. I share the recipe below, but if you remember nothing else, remember this: one-part vinegar, two-parts oil. I like mine tangy. For a less tangy vinaigrette, use 3 parts oil and one-part vinegar. Anything else is optional. Another quick way to dress your salad is to toss it lightly with a good olive oil, then squeeze a little lemon or drizzle some balsamic vinegar over it. Toss with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and you are good to go.

YUMMILICIOUS VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

Per 1 tablespoon:72 cal. 8g total fat. 1 g total carb

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 – 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (less tangy to tangy)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Fresh-ground black pepper

1 table spoon Dijon mustard

Optional:    2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoon minced fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried herbs, spoonful of honey or brown sugar

Pour oil and vinegar in a glass jar with a screw top. Add salt, black pepper. and any optional ingredients. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Note that the oil in the vinaigrette can cause it to solidify if stored in the fridge. Just let the dressing sit outside at room temperature and always shake well before using.

If you make it, be sure to let me know!

Coach Yaje

 

Self-Care is Self-Love

Every time I hear some one  use negative language to refer to their body or body parts, it hurts my heart. Women especially tend to use very negative and quite frankly hurtful words to refer to their bodies or body parts when they are trying to improve on it. Trying to improve your body from a negative point of view may be the reason why you are always giving up. Approaching self-improvement from a place of self-hate is a losing proposition.

I am on a mission to try to offer a different perspective to women and most especially women who have carried a pregnancy and birthed children. Have you ever stopped for one minute to consider what your body had to put up with to carry and bring to the world a new human being? I am always in complete awe. As a mother of three including twins, I sometimes look at my midsection and just want to kiss it with immense gratitude. I have all the loose skin. All the stretch marks. Everything that I could stand in the mirror and grab and shake and hate. But when I look in the mirror and see the diastasis recti (abdominal separation as a result of my pregnancy), I remind myself of why I have that (blessings of being a mom) and from that place of self-love, I ask myself what I can do to appreciate this core. My answer is the fuel that I use to endure the tough Jillian Michaels core workouts. My answer is what I use to hold that 5 minute planks even when I think I am going to die. My answer is why I can look at the plantain chips and say “no thanks!”. This daily practice is WHY I can sustain a fitness lifestyle.

You cannot sustain a self-improvement project from a place of self-loathing, self-hate or as a punishment. You simply will not go far. Sooner or later you will lose your motivation and that is always the beginning of the end. The change you are seeking to make will start to feel like a chore. Nobody likes to do chores.

I encourage you to practice a more useful and positive perspective. Focus on why you deserve this change. Focus on why it is great for you. Focus on the benefits you stand to gain. With a consistent practice of focusing on the positive, you are more likely to sustain the change you are trying to make.

As always let me know your thoughts.

Coach Yaje