my LEAD journey – week 1

This week I’m starting on a whole new adventure. I’ve been accepted to be part of a group of 100 pioneers at a new online course at Stanford: It’s a course set up specifically for change-makers in an existing organisational structure. For those who like me, do not just except the status quo, who dare to challenge and disrupt for the sake of positive change. It’s the first time that Stanford offers a course like this, in an online, collaborative environment. It’s very exciting and a privilege  to be able to tap into this great educational structure, knowledge and energy for making change and innovation happen.

This week has been about introduction to the resources, setting up our profiles, playing around on the amazing virtual 3D platform that they’ve created as part of the new learning experience. The group that is part of this yearlong program is incredibly diverse, from different industries, countries and ages, all in different types of jobs, but with one thing in common: we’re all looking for change, for exploring new unknown territories, and for being challenged. It’s going to be a great year!

Za’atar zing


Za’atar is one of the great middle-eastern spice mixtures that I discovered when I was introduced to Barakah, my local Arabic foodie shop. So many things I found and still find there that I had not seen or tried before. Pomegranate Molasses, Halva, amazing Tahine sauces, all sorts of dried beans, mulberries, sour plums, lots of thick creamy yoghurt and feta’s. And then the spices, oh what a playground. Lemon Powder, Sumac, Baharat and of course Za’atar. All these exotic names ae spice blends. All with their own personality, perfect for their own type of dish.

Za’atar has got oregano, thyme, basil, sumac, salt and sesame seeds. Tonight I rolled the fresh local salmon fillets in it and added some lemon zest before grilling them. I served them on top of a salad with roasted tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, capsicum and Israeli Couscous. All topped with a creamy yoghurt sauce with dill and lemon juice.

The salmon fillets are amazing, and can easily be eaten just like that as they just melt. The za’atar does give it that extra middle eastern zing though!


yummy, come on say it!



Yummy, or “lekker” in my native tongue is the word that pops into my mind mostly when I think of food. So many people I know almost feel too guilty to admit that. Isn’t that sad! They’re dieting, always thinking about fats, and sugars, salt and whatever else has been deemed as something that might taste good, but should really be avoided. I feel so sorry for them.

The Dutch even have a hand sign to go with ‘Lekker’ and I call it ‘wavy hands’. You put one hand or when it’s really REALLY yummy, you use two, and sort of wave them next to your ears. It means something tastes really good. And there is absolutely no shame admitting this. Food is there to enjoy. Cook healthily, use nice good ingredients, enjoy it. YUMMY!

Xylitol is good for you… yeah right


Xylitol is promoted as the saviour for all sweet tooths. The alternative to processed sugars as we’ve declared war on those. You don’t have to stop eating less sweet, just replace it all by xylitol. Its all plant based so can’t be bad. Right?

I’m pretty certain that eating raspberries which contain xylitol is indeed quite ok. Mass produced xylitol however, which is likely what you generally buy and what’s in the products that are sweet but ‘sugarfree’ probably hasn’t got the same health benefits. Having a bad habit, and just replacing it with an alternative without having to address it, fall under the ‘yeah right’ category.

Cooking fresh dishes most days, I hardly use any sugar, or salt for that matter. Not because I think sugar is evil nor because I am on a no sugar diet. It is just because it is not needed and actually destroys the other flavours. There are so many different tasting spices, veggies, fruits, herbs, why not give that a go? I am lucky I don’t have to avoid sugar, and can use it if I really want to. But I rather tempt my tastebuds into different adventures. Do you use xylitol?

Whey what?


Whey, what the heck is whey? I had no idea either, until I got my own cheese making kit earlier this year. When you make cheese out of milk, you end up with solids and liquid.The cheese are the solid bits, and the whey, well that’s all the liquid that’s leftover. There’s a lot of it and it feels a waste to throw it away. It still has lots of nutritious bits and pieces in it and since I have been brought up trying to not throw anything away that can be used, I looked for uses of whey. Apparently it’s great as a fertiliser for trees. My citrus trees therefore have enjoyed a bit of whey juice recently. We’ll see if they produce better next year! I also found out that whey is perfect as a base for making smoothies. After my last cheese making attempt I poured the whey into my mixer, added some pineapple, banana, coconut water and half a lemon and mixed it for a minute. It got lovely and fluffy, and tasted fantastic. Definitely a keeper!

What do you use whey for?