For this week’s What She Eats, we met up with our favorite Belgian blogger, Barbara Jacops, the chic architect turned foodie behind the amazing travel & cooking blog, Les Petites Pestes. Some might think architecture, travel, and cooking may not go together, but with Barbara’s amazing twist, the three go hand in hand. Barbara believes good food has the power to transport us to new places, and she sees its flavors, colors, and details as one complete experience. Her love for cooking sparked from her favorite Sex and The City scene at Magnolia Bakery, and her love for baking has inspired her to share her passions with the rest of us. Here’s what Barbara told us about her daily diet:
I eat different foods everyday, so it’s difficult to provide a typical day of eating. I love to play around with the basic staples, like dressings, herbs and spices. I just mix and match. Sometimes it’s a winner, sometimes it’s not. Everyday has a few things in common, however: avocado in one form or another, some chocolate, and whatever is in season. The way I cook is out of curiosity and it’s a mash-up of my influences and inspirations from classes I’ve taken in the past. I’m particularly inspired by the energetic food and raw cuisine of Matthew Kenney Culinary. I love to play around with plant-based recipes, discovering creative alternatives, and applying raw food techniques, like a bit of energetic cooking by ‘activating’ by soaking and sprouting. There are also some days where I keep it really basic, just adding a bit of herbs and a sprinkle of spices, … simplicity at its best.
I’ve learned that I never drink enough during the day, so I make sure to chug a liter of water in the morning to start off with some hydration. I also go for a glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of Apple Cider Vinegar. I love it. For caffeine, I’ll either make a matcha green tea or a coffee, but I always spike them with MTC or coconut oil, along with some turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and sometimes nut butter. It’s all about those healthy fats that keep you fuller longer, and the MTC oil or coconut oil give that cappuccino creaminess. I also recently started adding collagen because we all need glowing skin, right?
The reason why I only have drinks first is because I started incorporating intermittent fasting. It was first suggested by my doctor, due to some inflammation and leaky gut problems I was dealing with, so now I’m really giving my stomach and digestion a break and time to ‘heal’. Later in the morning, I’ll have my real breakfast, which usually involves berries, a spoonful of nut butter, nuts and seeds, coconut yogurt, homemade sweet or savory granola or avocado, and greens. If I am on the go, or not working from home, I’ll pack everything up and my new fave Klean Kanteen Insulated thing and sip on my warm drink all morning. Cold-pressed juices is still hard to come by in Belgium, and luckily enough I work as a freelancer for a cold-pressed juicery called Jus Jus, so I’ll grab one of their juices as an extra beverage to go.
I usually get in my workout for the day during my lunch break, so I’ll either swim, run, or do my strengthening psysiontherapy routines that are Pilates, TRX, body and light weight inspired exercises. When working from home, I throw in veggies in the oven with coconut oil, ghee, herbs and spices and then roast them until I get hungry. I let the oven do it’s thing while I shower, work, and do my workout. I love big batch cooking, like roasting veggies, making dressings, pickling things, and making sweet or savory crackers and snacks. I’m big on always having staples on hand and ready to use for dinner, turning them into soups, breakfast or lunch the day after, when on the go. It makes cooking so easy!
Lunch today was an ‘all things in the fridge’-salad made with fridge and batch cooking staples. The base was an asparagus daikon inspired salad from My New Roots. I added pickled watermelon radish and pickled goji berries, inspired by Camille Becerra, with an avocado dressing made from blending an avocado with coconut yogurt, lemon juice and loads of basil, adapted from a recipe by Heidi Swanson. I added Mandolined carrots and radish, diced mangos, apples, almond crumble, torn dille, and some toasted pumpkin seeds and pecans because I love the flavors.
I love to get creative with my snacks, and I try to find snacks that are nourishing and give me fuel while satisfying a craving or my sweet tooth. My freezer is filled with avocado, matcha coconut milk, and cashew turmeric based ice cream flavors, broken in bite size pieces, so I can just munch on that whenever. These are the type of ice creams that do you good- they’re healthy, fast, energy-supplying, and anti-inflammatory. As a chocolate monster, I am totally into this chocolate sauce I make with coconut oil, raw cacao powder, cinnamon and sea salt, and just cover everything with it, from sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and even puffed quinoa. I’m Belgian, after all- we were brought up with chocolate! I just find ways to sneak it into everything. Plus, because of my love for chocolate and good snacks, I developed a cookie range with Jus Jus, for who I am an RD for, just so we have an excuse to eat cookies all day.
I also love sipping on a glass of my homebrewed Kombucha throughout the afternoon, inspired by Sarah Britton. I love experimenting with brewing my own Kombucha. No brew is the same, because the flavors you add and how long it sits determines how it will taste. It makes it fun and interesting. It’s a hit or miss kind of thing, and you can flavor it however you like.
Because I’m big on a filling lunch and I love my afternoon snacks, my dinners are usually smaller. I like to go for a piece of fish with all sorts of vegetables, either roasted, steamed, or grilled. A friend made me a stock of bone broth, so I love blending that into a comforting soup with slow roasted ghee coated pumpkin pieces or some sweet potato. Yum!
Tonight, my dinner was a cooking class with the girls. One of my friends recently learned that she has to avoid gluten and doesn’t know how or where to start, so we thought a little cooking class would be fun. I like teaching my friends how to make fast, fun, healthy recipes, and Apero always starts with cava or prosecco. It’s a non-negotiable. First, we had a flax and psyllium husk husk avocado toast with all sorts of toppings inspired by Goop and Magnus’s taco recipe.
Then, for the main course, I taught them to marinate salmon in an oven dish with coconut milk, lime juice, lemongrass, olive oil and sea salt. Place it in the oven until the fish is done, and then serve with some easy sides, like cauliflower rice with toasted coconut, broccoli rice, and sauteed spinach with ginger and garlic. We also did a light cilantro salad with lunch leftovers, like grilled asparagus and diced mango.
Dessert was a chocolate avocado mousse and some super easy addictive chocolate buckwheat crispies. I love showing my girls how to make nourishing food, snacks and staples and how easy it is to make things from scratch. They’re busy girls who need the right fuel to keep them going and keep them on top of their game, so this is my contribution in their world domination scheme. Feeding friends is the best.