Take this doctor's advice on your diet!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016. Author Dr Pleuni Hooijman and Martin Cheifetz Photo by: Andre Prins

We believe that we have a very talented team here at FitnessGenes.  We’re fortunate to have a team of highly educated, super smart, and incredibly motivated group of international professionals.   Dr Pleuni Hooijman is shining example of the outstanding staff we’ve been able to attract.  Not only does Pleuni have a Ph.D. in Muscle Physiology and speak numerous languages with professional fluency, but she’s also a pro-level triathlete!  She is our very own Wonder Woman!

Pleuni is also trying to reduce her meat consumption, and always bringing her homemade, vegetarian treats into the office for us to try.  She advises, “Wholemeal bread can certainly be the starting point for a good lunch or snack. It is a healthy source of carbohydrates, protein, dietary fibers, calcium, iron and vitamin B-6 and easy to bring to work, in your car, to the gym, or wherever you plan on lunching. However, it is more challenging to find the right thing to have on your bread.” 

Pleuni adds, “Based on the FTO and APOA2 genes, your FitnessGenes report may advise you to pay extra attention to saturated fat intake and limit it to 22 grams per day (or 12% of total calories). Not that saturated fat is unhealthy on itself, our bodies do need it, but it is quite easy to over consume as it has been found in large amounts in many popular products.  Likewise, other people may receive  recommendations from us to limit their intake of refined simple sugars, based on having a poor genetic insulin score.”

Most tasty sandwich fillings or spreads, such as butter, beef, lamb, pork, poultry with the skin, cream, Nutella, and most cheeses have very high levels of saturated fats (up to 50% of the product) and Fat-free alternatives like jams, confitures or honey are loaded with simple sugars, and are therefore not the best options either.  What’s a girl (or boy) to do?

Pleuni advises, “You may switch to lean meats like chicken breast and roast beef, but if you try to reduce or eliminate meat consumption (like me): what alternatives remain that are low in saturated fat but also low in refined sugars? Cottage cheese? No thanks.  To optimize my personal diet, I find the following 3 choices to be tasty, easy to make and above all: healthy”.

#1  Home made hummus

NB: dried chickpeas need to be soaked over night


200 grams dried chickpeas

120 grams tahini (sesame paste)

5 Tbsp lemon juice

4 peeled and crushed cloves of garlic

2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda


Wash the chickpeas and let them soak overnight in twice the volume of water with one tsp bicarbonate of soda. Drain the chickpeas and put them in a large sauce pan, add 2 litres of fresh water and the remaining bicarbonate of soda. Bring to a boil, skim off foam and then lower the heat and let simmer until the chickpeas start to fall apart (this may take from 45 minutes  to a couple of hours). Drain the chickpeas (save a bit of the cooking liquid), add the lemon juice, garlic and tahini and mix very well. Use a blender or food processor to make it a puree. Add a pinch of salt, taste and add more if needed. If the puree is too thick, you may add a little of the remaining cooking liquid.

Refrigerated, you can keep the hummus up to 3-4 days. This recipe will result in a volume of about 550 grams hummus (20 portions).You also could try the supermarket’s ready-to-eat hummus but pay attention to the ingredients, some brands have (canola) oil as the first ingredient and have a relatively low chickpea content, so try to find those that at least have chickpeas as their first ingredient. You can also try this recipe with canned chickpeas, but it will never taste as good as using dried chick peas.

Each serving gives provides (X%) of your daily requirements: Vitamin C (4%), vitamin B6 (6%), folate (4%), magnesium (2%), phosphorus (4%), copper (4%) and manganese (8%).

Nutritional value in Grams Per 100 grams of finished product

Fats        11.8               (Saturated 1.8)

Carbs     24.5                (Dietary fiber 7.5)

Protein 9.7                    Kcal        243

#2  Grilled aubergine and tomato


1 eggplant
2 mid-sized tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil, sage or rosemary
Olive oil


Cut the eggplant into very thin slices (the thinner the better, approximately 2mm would be fine). Sprinkle salt on both sides of each slice (don’t worry about sodium levels, it will be washed off later). Set aside for 30 minutes in a colander. Then, rinse the eggplant slices with warm water and drip dry carefully. Heat a skillet until very hot, or turn on the oven grill (200 degrees Celsius). Cook both sides of the slices until done. You can also quickly grill the tomatoes (depending on their size you can cut them in slices, or when using cherry tomatoes cut in halves), or eat them on your sandwich raw, whatever you prefer. Add fresh leaves of basil, dried or fresh sage or rosemary (these latter two could be grilled as well together with the eggplant).

Either hot or cold, the eggplant with tomatoes are great for sandwiches. You can keep this up to 3 days if refrigerated. This recipe makes enough for up to 5 sandwiches or portions. Per serving you will cover of your recommended daily needs for vitamins and minerals: vitamin K (4%), vitamin C (6%), niacin (1%), vitamin B6 (1%), folate (7%), potassium (6%), copper (3%), zinc (1%), and manganese (11%).

Nutritional value (including using olive oil):  Grams Per 100 grams end product

Fats       4.2               (Saturated 0.6)

Carbs     3.3               (Dietary fiber 1.4)

Protein 1.1                 Kcal        56

#3  Hazelnut or almond butter

Hazelnuts or almonds (both roasted or raw are fine, have as much as you would like to make in one time, 400 gram makes a good jar)
Pinch of salt
Optional: a bit of rapeseed/canola oil
Optional: raw cacao powder or raw cacao nibs


Put the hazelnuts or almonds in the food processor (up to 3-4 cups at a time) and let the machine do its work. Once the ground nuts or almonds accumulate at the edges of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides so that everything is blended gently. Be patient as it takes a while, first it will look grainy but if you wait a bit longer (it could take up to 25 minutes), it will turn into a smooth and creamy butter. If you are really impatient, you can add a bit of rapeseed oil to speed up the process, but this should be unnecessary. For the chocolate lovers: adding a bit of cacao powder at the end makes it a nice strong chocolate paste . If you like raw cacao nibs, these should be added at the beginning of the process and give the butter a nice crunch. A pinch of salt will greatly improve the flavour of your home-made butter.

Put in a clean jar and close the lid tightly.  Store at room temperature for easier spreading.

With one serving of almonds you will have from your daily recommended vitamins and minerals: Vitamin E (26%), manganese (18%), riboflavin (8%), copper (7%), folate (2%), Vitamin B2 (10%), phosphorus (8%), potassium (3%), vitamin B1 (2%) and magnesium (10%).

Nutritional value Almond butter (excluding use of additional oil)  Grams Per 100 grams of end product

Fats       49               (Saturated 3.7)

Carbs     22               (Dietary fiber 12)

Protein 21                  Kcal        576

With the hazelnut butter you will get per serving: Vitamin E (11%), vitamin K (2%), vitamin B1 (6%), vitamin B6 (4%), folate (4%), magnesium (6%), manganese (43%), copper (12%), vitamin C (1%), and potassium (3%). 

Nutritional value Hazelnut butter (excluding use of cacao or oil) Grams Per 100 grams of end product

Fats       61               (Saturated 4.5)

Carbs     17              (Dietary fiber 10)
Protein 15                Kcal        628



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