For those of you that have been here before, you probably know by now that we strive to eat very healthy, in an attempt to make sure we can really enjoy our FI for as long as possible, with as much energy as possible and the least amounts of aches and pains (and/or disabilities). Based on available science today, there is only one lifestyle that actually allows for this: a plant-based whole foods diet.

After having given this a try about 2 years ago, we were amazed by some of the results: I’ve never recovered quicker from intense workouts, which I’ve been doing for the last 20 years of so. Certain annoying conditions disappeared (afternoon dip, acid reflux, occasional headache, etc.). And hopefully we are on our way to unclog our arteries and avoid having a heart attack, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and lots and lots more (see link above for available research and data).

However, it takes much more efforts to prepare because you make pretty much everything from scratch. Which brings us to the topic of today: Apply Pie – the (almost) whole foods approach.

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Before we get started this apple pie can be a very frugal desert as well, but it depends on what you grow in your yard (in our case, both the apples and the walnuts came from our own yard). If you have to buy all items in the grocery store, it might become relatively pricy. But at least it will give you an desert that actually makes you heathy, so it’s worth some money in our opinion.

Crust:

  • 250-300g (10 ounces) of medjool dates (others work as well– avoid the ones with sulfite as preservative) – softened in water for 30-60min, if necessary (cost ~€1.5)
  • 600ml (2.5 cups) of rolled oats (cost ~€0.2)
  • 250ml (1 cup) of soaked nuts (pecan, walnut or cashew) (Free!)
  • ½ table spoon cinnamon (or to taste) (€0.1)
  • 50-75ml coconut oil (about 4-5 table spoons) – limit where possible as this is not a whole food and not particularly healthy for you. However, the curst needs to stick together with something obviously. (€0.75)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt – limit where possible (we normally don’t use any) (€0.0)

Filling:

  • Apples (about 7-8 small ones or 5-6 large ones) (Free!)
  • Raisins (about 1-2 cups depending on your preference – avoid the ones with sulfite as preservative) (€0.5)
  • Cinnamon (1-2 table  spoons) (€0.1)

Total cost of for us for this pie (8 large pieces or 12 small pieces): €3.15 (if you buy everything, its around €5.0-5.5)

Preheat oven to about 175 degrees Celsius (350F).

Peel, core and cube the apples, add rinsed raisins and cinnamon, stir until mixed well.

Add rolled oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt to food processor (you can try this my hand, but I would not recommend this unless you have too much time on your hands). Continue mixing until the mixture has a “coarse sand” texture.

Add in dates and coconut oil, mix well until it starts to come together. If it does not, add some water. Once ready, add into pie dish to make the crust, add sides, but keep some crust to complete the top. Next pour in filling and complete top. Bake for about 45-50 min.

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Enjoy your healthy desert, we sure did!

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2016-10-tap-2You might have encountered this discussion yourself as well….. Mr. CF: why is it so cold in the house? Mrs. CF: I don’t know I have not touched the thermostat. Mr CF goes to up the temperature to find that the thermostat has crapped out (we checked, it weren’t the batteries). This all happened on Friday night at 20:00……crap stores are closed.

So the next (very cold) morning, the search begins for a new thermostat. Two questions that come up: what is available and how much do we want to spend on it? To answer the first question is: many! There is a large selection of thermostats, the basic ones have just a temperature gauge and two buttons, the fancy ones have 4 sensors for different areas of the house. These fanct systems are wireless/remotely operated, can be programmed with an app, are highly flexible (and so on and so forth). The first options costs a very reasonable €20,95, the second type up to a whopping €499, with the majority of them around the €100-180 mark. That is quite the price difference!

What do you “need”, well you certainly need a thermostat as it won’t be very comfortable or practical to live without heating. But it is more the want’s that come into play with the thermostat. The options start with do you want to be able to program (e.g. daily on/off cycles, temperature ranges, etc.), do you want to be able to remotely turn on/off the heating of the house, or whatever else you can think of related to heating the house.

After some debate, we opted for the basic €20,95 thermostat option. Why? We noticed that our living schedule changes significantly from day to day. We don’t always come home at the same time (subject to work, Miss CF plans to play outside after day-care or desire to what’s some Roger Rabbit, spontaneous weekend plans or other reasons), so programming does not really work that well. Which means the heating is either on or off at the wrong time (which is uncomfortable or a waste of money/energy). The remotely (app) operated would be a welcome features, but just not at the price of €150-499.2016-10-tap-3

Our home these days in not too big anymore (~125m2 or about 1350sf) with lots of smaller living areas and rooms, so it heats up rather quickly; therefore increasing the temperature when coming home is not a noticeable problem for us. To keep things simple and frugal, we bought the cheapest option that does only one thing: keep us comfortable. We keep the temperature on about 17-18 degrees Celcius when we are not there and increase to around 20-20.5 degrees Celcius when we get home or if we feel cold. We have the advantage that we have large south/southwest facing windows, so the house heats up nicely during the sunny days. And with the about €130 we saved, we can also buy some sweaters 😉 Oh, and additionally we lowered the temperature of the boiler system to 65 degrees  Celcius (down from 80 degrees Celcius), this means lower gas use while still limiting the risk of nasty organisms in the water lines.

Also, on the same cold Saturday morning, we deviced a simple plan to keep warm (at least around the stove) and enjoy a good solid breakfast at the same time: Pancakes!

Because we try to eat as healthy as we can, we prefer a plant based whole foods lifestyle. But that means that pancakes are not really the heathiest way to eat. However, we found a decent recipe to eat semi-healthy pancakes without the milk and eggs:

  • 700ml soy milk
  • 300 grams whole grain flour
  • Baking powder
  • Couple of apples (cored, peeled and sliced)
  • Real Canadian Maple syrup (skip this is you want to stick to the really healthy, but you have to enjoy life as well!)
  • Bit of oil for baking (we actually used olive oil for this)

Mix soy milk and flour, add backing power. Mix thoroughly. Heat pan, add some oil, and pour in batter. Add apple slices. Turn once half way and bake pancakes until golden brown. The end result looked like this:

Bon appetite!

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For another post on the frugal-licious series we take on of our favorite (albeit not very heathy) snacks: the Samosa!

As you may be aware, we try to follow a plant based whole foods lifestyle as much as possible (why? because your body will thank you now and when you are older). This recipe ain’t it, but we try to make it as healthy as possible by not using salt and oils.

What do you need?

  • 1 large potato finely diced (5-10mm cubes)
  • 1 large carrot finely diced (as above)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 lage Onion finely chopped
  • 1.5 cup of (frozen) peas
  • 1 table spoon of vegetable oil (optional, a bit of water also works fine)
  • 2-3 teaspoons of curry powder (or any spice mix that you want/prefer)
  • Salt/peper to tast (we actually don’t use any salt)
  • 100ml of vegetable stock (but you can also replace with water and up the spice mix a bit)
  • 1 package of 10 square phyllo-dough sheets (preferably with the least amount of ingredients and additives)

Heat the oil/water in a frying pan, add the onions and garlic, mix in the spices and fry until soft. Next, add the vegetables, seasoning and stir will until coated. Add the stock/water, cover and simmer for about 30 min until cooked and a bit mushy.

Next (and this is the easy route), open the packed of phyllo-dough and place on a large oven plate. Make sure that they, if they are just out of the freezer, are warmed up and flexible. Add as much of the mixture in the phyllo-dough as you can (but you are still able to close and seal the sides, see picture below). Put the plate into the oven and bake for about 15-20min at about 200 degrees Celsius (about 390-400F).

Samosa

sorry for the crappy resolution, we don’t have expensive phones with good cameras (go figure!).

Enjoy!

Oh, and you can also make “appelflappen” in exactly the same way. Only insert a mixture of about 3-4 large apples, a cup or two of raisins and table spoon of cinnamon. Make sure you first cook this mixture until tender in a small pan to make sure it shrinks less in the oven. Gives you a appelflap with much more filling.

 

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In order to become financially independent you have to be frugal to some degree (otherwise you cannot live below your means and invest the associated savings). You furthermore need to step outside your comfort zone and invest all your savings into various assets. This always involves risk, but these generally decrease the longer you keeps these assets. The key thing here is risk awareness, assessment and management, by doing research into the assets of your choice you can reduce the risk and increase profit. Hereby obtaining financial independence over time and maintaining it in the long run.

Another  very big portion of the strategy to become and maintain financial independence is to be, and stay, as healthy as you possibly can. Healthcare is expensive, and is poised to become even more expensive in the future (unfortunately due to our own doing as we generally live unhealthy lives as a species). You can read more about healthcare costs in the original post here.

If  you look at the available science to date (meta studies are great for this), it becomes pretty obvious that the most healthy lifestyle is a whole food plant-based lifestyle. So this is what we strive to eat for the majority of our meals, but this only works if you have some good recipes! In the previous post we reviewed the lentil loaf, in this post we want to present you another good one: The African Stew.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pints / 1.4 litres vegetable stock
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 lb / 450g sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 x 400g chick peas
  • 6 oz / 170g millet
  • Approximately 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 4 oz / 115g peanut butter
  • 3 oz / 85g chopped kale
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. Heat a large saucepan and add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable stock. Add garlic and onion and saute until soft.
  2. Add the rest of the stock, sweet potatoes, chick peas, millet and a drop or two of soy sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove some of the stew liquid from the saucepan, blend with peanut butter and return to the saucepan.
  4. Add the kale and cook for 5 min. Season to taste with lemon juice and soya sauce, adding a little at a time.

The above recipe is shamelessly stolen from this website.

A couple of additional comments to make sure you maximize the health effect of the meal:

  • limit salt (or avoid at all if your taste buds have gotten used to a whole food plant-based lifestyle)
  • avoid lemon juice with sulfite containing preservative (ideally get a lemon and just squeeze)
  • cook your chick peas from scratch if you can, but if you want to use a can buy the ones without preservatives and/or salt
  • Get peanut butter made solely of peanuts (i.e. no added sugar, fractioned oils or any other crap you often find in this stuff)

And it looks something like this:

African-Yam-Stew

Credits for this picture to go http://vegan-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/African-Yam-Stew.jpg

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In order to become financially independent you have to be frugal to some degree (otherwise you cannot live below your means and invest the associated savings). You furthermore need to step outside your comfort zone and invest all your savings into various assets. This always involves risk, but these generally decrease the longer you keeps these assets. The key thing here is risk awareness, assessment and management, by doing research into the assets of your choice you can reduce the risk and increase profit. Hereby obtaining financial independence over time and maintaining it in the long run.

Another (big) portion of the strategy to become and maintain financial independence is to be, and stay, as healthy as you possibly can. Healthcare is expensive, and is poised to become even more expensive in the future (unfortunately due to our own doing as we generally live unhealthy lives as a species). We calculated the other day that healthcare cost (per capita) in the Netherlands averaged a whopping 6% per year increase over the last 30 or so years (see figure below), compared to an average inflation during the same period of only 3%! The best way to limit these cost is to maintain optimal health. But how do you do this?

health care 2

(See how high the Netherlands ranks…..not nearly as expensive as the US, but still!)healthcare cost per capita

We have done a fair bit of digging into medical science and literature to find out what generally decreases risk and found that food/beverages are the single largest overall risk factor (noteworthy mentioning is smoking, but this is a risk primarily for long cancer). Physical activity is crucial, obviously, but food appears to have a bigger impact on overall health risks. For example the risk of dying from coronary heart disease while being very fit but eating poorly is larger (for most people) than being a couch potato who eats very healthy, go figure…..

So, purely based on science and populations studies (see below for a list of several references, some with medical references included), what foods decrease health risks:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Water/green tea

The following increase health risks:

  • Junk food (fried foods, cake, candy, soda, etc.)
  • Animal products (i.e. meat, fish, eggs, dairy)
  • Processed foods (i.e. non-whole foods)
  • Alcohol
  • Salt

Now, this isn’t to say that you should not eat/drink the above, but the fewer you eat/drink the lower your risk of disease and disability (and associated cost and inconvenience). It’s up to you to decide how much risk you are willing to take.

The interesting thing thou, is that these risks are commonly underestimated and/or overlooked, as it takes a long time for the effects to manifest themselves (e.g. stroke, heart attack, cancer, Alzheimer, etc.), but once they do it is often too late to correct/reverse or is even fatal. Prevention is key!

By eating a healthy and balanced (primarily) whole-food plant based diet, you also save some money on the grocery bill, as most plant based foods are cheaper than pre-packaged foods, meats and fish. Albeit commonly not cheaper than most processed foods, which is not a good thing. So, eating (very) healthy should also be a frugal practice by lowering once grocery bill and limiting ones medical bill, there is a serious win-win scenario here.

To help with this frugal and healthy (did someone say “new year resolution”?) lifestyle, we will post some of the recipes that we enjoy, eat on a regular basis and are relatively cheap to make.

Lentil Loaf

(not our actual lentil loaf, should make a photograph one of these days!)

Frugal-licious: The Lentil Loaf

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups lentils (you pick the colour)
  • 3 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups pre-cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Optional: 2-4 cups of chopped spinach and/or kale
  • Optional: 1-1.5 cupd crushed walnuts

How you do it:

  • Pre-heat oven to 175-180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • In a large soup or stock pot, simmer the lentils in water or vegetable broth until cooked, about 30 minutes. Make sure they are very soft so that they will mash up easily.
  • Drain thoroughly then mash the lentils.
  • Sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil or another cooking oil (canola, sunflower or vegetable oil) for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft.
  • Combine the onions, garlic and olive oil with the mashed lentils and add the rice, ketchup or barbecue sauce, sage, and Italian seasoning (and optionally the spinach and/or kale and/or walnuts).
  • Gently press the entire lentil, onion and garlic mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. Drizzle a bit of extra ketchup on top if desired.
  • Bake your lentil loaf for about 45-60 min (the longer you bake, the stiffer the loaf). Allow to cool slightly before serving, as this will help the lentil loaf to firm up.
  • Note: you can also make great burgers on a baking sheet as well! Baking time is shorter at around 20-30 min, flip halfway.

References

Here are a few references that hint on the use of healthy food and beverages on risk reduction/prevention, there are obviously many more such sites:

http://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/

http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483919/k.EB14/Heart_disease__Prevention_and_risk_factors.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia/alzheimers-and-dementia-prevention.htm

The following site includes links to all medical literature used for the text and short/long video clips:

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/

http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/plant-based-diets

Enjoy!

 

 

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