Scrolling through my Instagram feed sometimes makes me feel like the whole world is on a raw vegan diet, goes to daily yoga sessions and sips on greens juices all day long. But when I look around me, the reality looks quite different. Switzerland is still very much behind on the health trend and the simple task of finding a healthy meal at a restaurant can become an almost impossible task. So when I first started out on my health journey, I thought I was the only crazy health nut in Switzerland. That's why I eventually created the Swiss Foodies Facebook group in the hope of finding other like-minded people. And boy was I surprised at how fast we grew! We're now a group of 75 clean eating chicks that love to exchange recipes and meet up (mainly in Zurich) for healthy lunches, soy latte machiatto or putlocks at someone's house.
That's how I stumbled across Fanny from Fanny the Foodie. She's a twenty-year old student from Switzerland with a passion for healthy eating, and much like me, had to go through many up's and down's before finding a balanced lifestyle for herself. I'm absolutely in awe of her photography (click here for more inspiration) & her creations always have me drooling over my phone. If you want to know what I mean, don't forget to scroll down to the very end where you can find her gluten and sugar but definitely not taste-free carrot crumble slice recipe. Enjoy!
What was the catalyst that turned you into a healthy foodie?
To tell you this story, I have to go way back to 2011 when I decided to go overseas for a year with the Rotary youth exchange program. One of my biggest wishes was about to come true; I would spend one whole year living in Australia. Prior to me (and some other students) going on our big adventure into the unknown, we had numerous preparation sessions and I remember one of the many things they told us about was that most of us were probably going to gain at least 10 kilos. At that time I literally ate what ever I wanted and I wasn’t really the most active person in the world. Yet, as my parents valued a balanced diet, I still ate relatively healthy and just had treats once in a while when I bought something in the cafeteria of my school or when I went out with friends. But once I arrived in Australia, I suddenly had all these unhealthy snacks at my disposal and I rapidly started gaining weight. I especially ate heaps of Tim Tams (anyone who’s ever been to Australia can probably understand my obsession…). I was also doing very little to no exercise. Most weeks the only actual exercise I did was the 500 hundred m foot walk from my bus stop to my house. I didn't feel great on this lifestyle but it was only until later that I realised that I had to change something.
Let’s fast forward to Christmas 2012, summer holidays in Australia. By that time I had put on around 6 kilos and I felt extremely uncomfortable with my body and was generally unhappy. That was the moment it made click. I guess you could say that was my 'catalyst' for my as-of -right-now healthy and balanced lifestyle. The changes weren't easy and I didn’t go from eating crap all day to following the exact diet and lifestyle I am following today. In fact, there were many ups and downs. I went through different stages of undereating and over-excercising until I finally ended up where I am today. As of today, I can happily and proudly say that I regained a healthy relationship with food, I follow a balanced diet and I exercise whenever I feel like it (and not just for the sake of wanting to lose weight but because I actually developed a joy in moving my body).
Why do you eat the way you eat?
I should probably start off by quickly describing the way I eat: I personally do not want to define myself as a vegetarian, vegan, meat-eater, pescetarian or whatever else there is. I do follow a vegan/plant-based diet 90% of the time, yet if there’s no vegan option I am not going to make a fuss about it. I love food way too much for that!
I haven’t eaten meat in over two years yet I do not have a clue if this is going to be an eternal thing. I just do not want to restrict myself in anyway as I don’t want to redevelop an unhealthy relationship with food. I also make sure that I try to eat seasonally and whenever I can I buy the organic option.
So, I guess if you want to label the diet I follow you could call it the I-eat-whatever-I-fancy- and- what-makes-me-feel- good- diet :). I eat healthy because eating lots of veggies is making me feel great, eating as little dairy as possible is making me feel great, eating lots of fruit is making me feel great, eating very little processed foods is making me feel great and especially eating whatever I fancy is making me feel great, not just physically but also mentally.
It is also more environmentally friendly to reduce the consumption of animal products, and I think if everyone contributes a little to this we can go a long way in "saving the planet".
Describe your day on a plate.
Wow that’s a hard one. I am a real foodie, so I love mixing up my meals. It hardly ever happens that I eat the same dinner two days in a row. But let me start with the beginning of the day. My breakfast is usually sweet; one day I'll have overnight oats, the next day a smoothie bowl and sometimes I eat granola and fruit. The options are endless, really. For lunch I will usually go for something on the lighter side such as salads, soups or even a sandwich. Dinner is my favourite meal of the day and I love to get creative in the kitchen with this. I come up with different concoctions every single day. But it usually consists of a mixture of veggies and some kind of carbohydrate such as rice, pasta, potatoes or couscous. Even though I use the same type of ingredients, I still come up with different and exciting ways of serving all of those delish foods. I also love taking inspiration of different cuisines from around the world.
When it comes to snacking I usually go for fruit or raw veggies. Since I am also a passionate baker, I always have some of my delicious treats ready to grab whenever I crave something sweat. Another thing I should probably mention is my tea addiction. Ever since I have been to Australia I can’t go a day without my cuppa (usually more than one…)
What are the 5 things we will always find in your fridge/pantry?
Hmm another hard one, let me think…
- Chickpeas, dried or canned. Chickpeas are my all time favourite legume. I used them for stews, hummus, pasta sauces, more hummus, curries and more hummus, yes I am kind of obsessed with hummus…
- Cumin, my favourite spice. It is such a versatile spice and used in many different types of cuisines. It is a staple for middle eastern dishes, Indian curries, Mexican food …
- Agave syrup, which is my favourite sweetener.
- Some kind of granola, whether it is homemade or store bought. Granola is such an easy and simple thing to have for breakfast when you don't have much time on your hands. I try to make my own as often as I can to avoid eating the store-bought processed stuff.
- Frozen fruit; I’ve always got some kind of frozen fruit (usually berries and bananas) in my freezer so that I always have smoothie ingredients on hand.
What’s the biggest nutrition misconception you are always having to clear up for people?
I am actually not very into all the nutrition talk and don’t try to make people eat healthier or different to what they’re used to. I don’t think that I have enough knowledge to teach people what to do and what not to do. Yet, if I could give some advice to my younger self it would probably to not be scared of eating carbs. Healthy carbs are so good for you!
Tell us about your workout routine.
I don't have a set routine, apart from two things that I do regularly. The first is yoga. I love going to Deddou’s classes at Pop Up Yoga in Zurich, but I also come up with my own routines at home. I practice everyday, but on some days I might just do some stretches and twist instead of a full routine. For cardio, I love going on runs in the beautiful forest where I live and I have also recently discovered my love for cycling. I usually do one to two sessions of cardio a week and for the rest of the week I just do my yoga routines.
What does living a wholesome lifestyle mean to you?
A wholesome lifestyle for me equals a lifestyle that makes me feel great. A lifestyle with no restriction filled with delicious and nutritious food. I think exercise is also an important part in a wholesome lifestyle as it makes you a happier and more positive person. The combination of both has given me so much more energy!
Can you tell us your favourite healthy spots in Zurich?
I know this is super cliché and boring (unfortunately Switzerland just doesn't have that many healthy options), but Tibits and Hiltl are definitely two of my favourites. I also love the salad buffet at Les Halles. Just the location itself is worth a visit but the food is always delicious as well and incredibly affordable for Swiss standards (15.- for a huge plate of different salads). For fish eaters I can also recommend their moules, they’re amazing!
Sine the Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my faves, I can recommend places like Moudis Lecker, Bebek or Maison Blunt. If you’re looking for a really healthy place to have lunch at I can recommend Roots or Gärtnerei. And for all the lovers of the vegan cuisine definitely visit Ellenbelle and les Gourmandises de Miyuko.
But I don't always opt for the healthy option when eating out; I allow myself to indulge once in a while. I am definitely not the girl who orders the green salad with nothing on top when eating out. The number one thing I care about when choosing a place to eat out is that their cuisine is creative and unique.
I know that you are passionate about yoga. What tip would you give to someone who is just starting out?
I am definitely not a yoga pro and have only been practicing for a little over two years. But I think the most important tip I can give is to be patient and to not compare yourself to others. Yoga isn’t about being able to do all sorts of forearm stands, arm balances and splits. but rather about finding relaxation in moving your body. It is obviously amazing when you realise that you have improved and that you are getting more flexible but I think it is important not to focus on that too much. I also suggest to at least visit a yoga class the first couple of times you’re practicing yoga to learn the basics and also to make sure you’re performing the different poses in the right way. A great alternative or additional learning tool are yoga videos (plus they let you save money and time). I can recommend HappyandFitYoga and Yoga with Adriene for beginners and when you get a little more advanced and you fancy a challenge I personally love Leslie’s Videos from Fightmaster Yoga.
Fanny's Gluten-free Carrot Crumble Slice
Fanny's Gluten-free Carrot Crumble Slice
2 carrots (mine weighed 130g)
50g almond meal
50g buckwheat flour
90g agave (can be substituted with maple syrup or honey)
30g almond butter
100ml almond milk
½ tsp vanilla paste ½ tsp cinnamon
1tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground cloves
a pinch of nut meg
20g coconut oil (preferably slightly softened)
20g millet flakes (if you haven’t got millet flakes you can use oats, if necessary gluten-free ones)
20g chopped almonds
20g coconut sugar (can be substituted with ordinary sugar or cane sugar)
½ tsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 180°C
Finely grate your carrots.
Into a mixing bowl add the grated carrots, buckwheat flour, almond meal, agave, cinnamon, baking powder, ground cloves, nut meg and almond butter also pour in the almond milk.
Mix your batter until well combined..
Pour into a square shaped lined baking tin.
For the crumble add coconut oil, millet flakes, chopped almonds, coconut sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and crumble it up with your fingers until all the ingredients are well combined. It shouldn’t quite form a dough but the mixture should be slightly sticky.
Evenly crumble the millet almond mixture over the cake batter. Now bake at 180 °C for 20 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out clean.
After 20 minutes remove it from the oven, let it cool down completely and then slice your cake into squares. I went for fairly big slices so I got 9 out of this amount of cake though you could totally make your slices a bit smaller.