Spring comes in huge leaps to Tennessee and I am excited like an Easter Bunny about all those yellow daffodils. My body really missed the warm temperatures and I am so ready for springtime!
Meteorologically, the first season already started last week on March 1, astrologically we would have to wait until the spring equinox on March 20. I do not want to wait any longer and probably, the most of you agree with me. We hereby declare: it is spring! Dear weathermen, tell us that it is going to be warm, we want to get out, sit in the sun and have a delicious gelato.
Actually, Gelato is kind of my topic for March, the first month of spring: a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and exercise. Is this in any way connected to ice cream?, you might be asking. Yes, it is and it is also quite simple to explain, because if you keep your body in shape, you can, without any problem, treat yourself every now and then. Be it a gelato on a beautiful, sunny day or some fries while shopping with your friends.
If you are not happy with your weight or body, I can just tell you to change your diet and incorporate more exercise in your everyday life. I know it is hard in the beginning, however I managed to do it and I am such a lazy, hungry person. I changed my way of eating a few years ago and do sports twice a week. Of course, I am not always consistent and sometimes I struggle, in weight as well as in commitment. That is why I summarize in March and take a look at where I am right now. It is a bit like a spring cleaning for my body.
I did my summary a little earlier this year to have the chance to share my six favorite tips to be healthy, happy and fit with you. I hope they will be as helpful to you as they are to me!
Six tips to be healthy, happy and fit
1. Balanced Diet
A balanced diet including fruits, vegetables and whole grains on a daily base as well as healthy oils from fish and nuts helps you to feel lively, happy and fit. Dairy products and meat are desirable but better in moderation. Try various things and be open for new experiences. For example, it can be really fun to hide fruit from oneself. I probably have to explain that in more detail. I do not like eating fruits. Here are three examples why that is so: mango tingles my tongue, pineapple tears my roof of mouth and bananas leave a film on my teeth. However, if the fruits are hidden in dishes, the negative sides effects weaken and do not bother me anymore. Thus, apple slices are quite nice, but apple cubes in my oatmeal are amazing; orange segments bore me, orange fillets in fennel pasta taste fantastic; when it comes to plain pears a shiver runs down my spine, pears with brie and walnuts as bruschetta on the other hand are a dream come true. Hide fruits and vegetables in dishes you love and, bam, they become your best friends.
Anyone who claims he is not the sporty type is lying! I say that so boldly because it is true. Everyone is athletic, just everyone in a different, individual way. For example, I hate jogging, it is super boring (for me) and I will never like it. However, I have been dancing since I was a little child and I still love it. I tried many other sports, but none suited me as well as dancing did. In the past, my favorite was a kind of rhythmic gymnastics, today I do pole dance and cannot get enough of all the beautiful dancing elements as well as the enormous physical challenges. Did you ever hang on a pole using just one leg while being upside down? I tell you, it is a lot of fun! Find yourself a sport that is suited for you and that you care about. I promise you, as soon as you have it, you just want to do more. Here are some ideas: cross golf, bike polo, parkour, belly dancing, kickboxing, trampoline jumping, acrobatics, fatburn yoga, handstand training, pole fitness (my recommendation!), Ballet, …
Without routine I would fall apart within a few days. This is not a joke, my husband confirms that for sure. I eat regularly, I have my distinct sport schedule, I go to sleep early and follow certain rituals (put out my clothes for the next day in the evening, prepare my oatmeal in orderly steps, read before sleeping, …). This sounds a bit nerdy, however it helps me, and is especially good for my bitchy stomach. In general, regular processes are important because they provide us with a solid base that keeps us steady against the growing uncertainty around us. Especially, routine helps in stressful and difficult situations. We just keep going with our learned process and do not completely lose the grip when it gets turbulent.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
People who do not drink often feel weak and tired. Fluids are needed throughout our body to keep it going. When I was a teenager, I hardly drank anything, I was never thirsty. For that I often felt dizzy. Great deal, right? At some point I did not want to feel like that anymore (and my doctor did not think it was funny, too), so I forced myself to drink half a gallon per day. It was not easy, at first my body did not know what to do with all the liquid (ok, actually my body actually knew pretty well but we do not want to talk about that). After a year I got used to it and felt thirsty again. Do not be as stupid as I used to be, do yourself a favor and hydrate.
5. Fresh Air
Ok, who knows the sentence: “Come on, fresh air is really good for you!” Yes, I see hands everywhere. Unfortunately, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, … were just right. The fresh oxygen gives us power and the sun, even when it is cloudy, provides us with vitamin D and feel-good hormones also known as serotonin. I try to be outside for at least 20 minutes every day. This is not easy, because I often spend hours in front of my laptop and forget the time while I am working. However, I came up with a few methods to outsmart myself and I am happy to share them with you: reading outside (for work or in general), having lunch outside, outdoor sports, morning coffee on the balcony, a bike ride to work, going for a walk with neighbor’s doggy, small garden project, instead of bindge watching TV in the evening go for a 15 min. walk around the block, activities such as kayaking, SUP, etc. on the weekend, …
6. Treat yourself
Last but not least: treat yourself! If you eat well, hydrate and actively exercise in the fresh air, it should be no problem to enjoy something fatty, sweet or heavy every now and then. I think it even is really important to not draconically ban certain foods, your mind is a crafty little brat who wants to have the unhealthy stuff even more when it is not allowed. So be open for food like that, however, keep the consumption of burgers, Schnitzel, ice cream, etc. on a conscious level. This way these treats stay special and you will appreciate them even more.
Since March, you have worked hard on your healthy diet and exercised weekly. You feel super fit and stronger than ever. I am so proud of you! After all you have been through you really earned a treat. How about a nice piece of birthday cake at a fantastic party? Ok, the introduction was really bad, however you might have guessed it: my BIRTHDAY is in April!!! You cannot see it, but I am performing a little dance right now, just as I always do when I think about this wonderful day. I am a huge fan of birthdays in general and, of course, the biggest fan of my very own. This year, I enter the big THREE and I am so looking forward to it. Unlike many others, I cannot wait to leave my twenties behind: finally being a grown up (as far as the idea), finally being reasonable (just kidding), finally thirty!
You probably will not be celebrating my birthday, even though I would like to recommend it to you, so let us talk a bit about Easter, the better known celebration of the month of April. A great day for Christianity, and also a nice celebration for those who do not belong to this religion.
Easter is a bit like Christmas light: the family comes together, but without all the stress, there is something delicious to eat and you even get a small present. I find it particularly relaxing that the gifts for Easter are clearly defined. You do not need to give the presents as much thought as you do on Christmas, because it is certain: the presents are pretty, colorful eggs. Actually, dyeing Easter eggs is a wonderful activity for young and old. When I was little, I often did that with my Mama, however it is also a great idea for your next girls night: prepare all ingredients, make some snacks and open a bottle of sparkling wine. For all your lovely ladies who are really conscious about health and the environment, I would like to recommend the technique of my grandmother. Every year my Oma creates the most beautiful eggs with natural colors of onion skins, which she decorates with leaves and flowers. It costs little, is fun and you can get creative with the ingredients, such as spinach for green eggs, or beetroot for pink eggs. I opted for the classic without pattern and colored my eggs using onion shells red brown, blue using red cabbage and yellow using turmeric. Super simple, just take a look:
Easter Egg Dyeing with natural colors
Red Brown Easter Eggs
6 white eggs
3.5 oz red onion skins
6 cups water
2 tbsp vinegar
Boil the onion skins in the water and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook the eggs in it for 10 minutes. For a uniform color result, you can remove the onion skins before you put the eggs into the mixture. I did not remove them because I like the light stain pattern. For a deep shade, the eggs should rest in the onion water overnight.
Blue Easter Eggs
6 white eggs
1/2 red cabbage, roughly chopped
6 cups water
2 tbsp vinegar
Boil the red cabbage in the water and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook the eggs in it for 10 minutes. For a uniform result, you can remove the red cabbage before you put the eggs into the mixture. For a deep shade, the eggs should rest in the red cabbage water overnight.
Yellow Easter Eggs
6 white eggs
3 tbsp tumeric
6 cups water
Boil the water and add turmeric. Let your mixture sit for 30 minutes. Boil it again, add the eggs and let them cook for 10 minutes. For a deep shade, the eggs should rest in the turmeric water overnight.
May is one of the most beautiful months of the year. Everything is really green, the days are wonderfully warm and finally new, amazingly fresh produce arrive at the markets. It seems like nature wants to burst. Everywhere you can hear humming, the bees buzzin’ in the tree, to make some honey just for me, when you look under the rocks and plants and take a glance at the fancy ants …. Sorry, I got a bit distracted here.
In May the gardeners are really busy and you can also start filling your beds with vegetables, fruits and all sorts of herbs. Maybe you are just like me and have already started some of your plants in the house earlier that year. During the fifth month tomatoes, eggplants, etc. are big enough to move outdoors. Grab your shovel and get out into the fresh air.
Last year my favorite plants have been our potted strawberries. The beautiful fruits greeted me every day and after I harvested them, they delighted us with their fragrant taste. Go for it, buy two or three young plants and decorate them in nice pots on your balcony. On the one hand, it looks very pretty and on the other hand, there is nothing better than enjoying a strawberry sponge cake with home-grown fruits in the sun. PS: Of course, the cake tastes (almost) as good with some bought berries.
STRAWBERRY SPONGE CAKE
For 4 People
50 minutes + about 30 minutes to cool down
2 large eggs
4 tbsp water
3.5 oz sugar
3.5 oz bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
3.5 oz strawberries
2 tbsp jam (i.e. homemade peach jam) + 1 tbsp water
Separate eggs into two clean, oil-free bowls. Add the sugar to the egg yolk, mix with the water and beat until fluffy.
Mix flour with baking powder and sift to egg-sugar mixture. Stir everything until a smooth dough is formed. Preheat the oven to 360 °F.
Add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until stiff. The surface should be smooth and creamy, without flaking.
Carefully fold the stiff egg whites in the dough. Our goal is to get as much air and volume into it as possible. We achieve this through the three steps we have already taken: sifting the flour, whisking the whites until stiff, and carefully folding (instead of roughly stirring) the egg whites in.
Line a small baking pan with of parchment paper and spread the dough on it. If your pan is too big, just use one half. Bake the sponge for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Cut the fluffy light sponge into a square or rectangle. Mix the jam with the water, spread it on your cake and decorate the cleaned strawberries on top.
You can also bake your sponge cake one to two days before you want to use it. Cover it after cooling with parchment paper or under a cake dome and decorate it just before you want to eat it.
Strawberry Sponge Cake
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tbsp water
- 3.5 oz sugar
- 3.5 oz bread flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3.5 oz strawberries
- 2 tbsp jam + 1 tbsp water
- Step 1 Separate eggs into two clean, oil-free bowls. Add the sugar to the egg yolk, mix with the water and beat until fluffy.
- Step 2 Mix flour with baking powder and sift to egg-sugar mixture. Stir everything until a smooth dough is formed. Preheat the oven to 360 °F.
- Step 3 Add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until stiff. The surface should be smooth and creamy, without flaking.
- Step 4 Carefully fold the stiff egg whites in the dough. Our goal is to get as much air and volume into it as possible. We achieve this through the three steps we have already taken: sifting the flour, whisking the whites until stiff, and carefully folding (instead of roughly stirring) the egg whites in.
- Step 5 Line a small baking pan with of parchment paper and spread the dough on it. If your pan is too big, just use one half. Bake the sponge for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Step 6 Cut the fluffy light sponge into a square or rectangle. Mix the jam with the water, spread it on your cake and decorate the cleaned strawberries on top. You can also bake your sponge cake one to two days before you want to use it. Cover it after cooling with parchment paper or under a cake dome and decorate it just before you want to eat it.
You see, we have tons of things do in spring: getting fit in March, celebrating in April and enjoing fresh and warm air in May. So, let us start into three amazing months full of energy, parties and green plants. I want to get out and do so many things such as trying new recipes involving fresh veggies and fruits, digging up the garden, shopping at the farmers markets, smelling flowers, running through meadows and so on. But first things first, so let us put on our sunglasses and grow some nice freckles on the balcony.