Let’s talk about food!

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Veronique Talent manager

19 Jan 2018  ·  5 min read

Fun fact: the average person consumes nearly a ton of food per year. For all of us at November Five, that big appetite is partially satisfied at the office… But with our move, we decided to shake things up!

Thanks to our move to the Scheldestraat, our lovely chef Hilde is now operating out of a dream kitchen. This improvement allowed us to change a couple of things to the way we organise, order, and prepare our daily edibles.

Starting the new year in this new office got us thinking about good intentions, and like many people, we wanted to work on our health this year ;)

We partnered up with a great gym around our corner, to be able to offer all our team members a discounted membership there as a perk – but that wasn’t quite enough.

Mens sana in corpore sano

We thought hard about the way we want to be better, feel better and do better in 2018, and we settled on three main goals:

  • A healthy mind in a healthy body: we want to offer our teams only high-quality food, using healthy and fresh products to keep our bodies happy;
  • Be a mindful consumer: we want to contribute to our thriving local farmer economy instead of just working with one big supplier;
  • Adopt a limited-waste attitude: throwing food away is wasteful, and we’ve been doing it too often!

How are we going to achieve all that? By working according to 6 basic principles!

1. Cut the processed stuff

It’s good to know what you eat. We’re committing ourselves to buying whole foods instead of pre-processed variants, and preparing as much as possible from scratch. This will minimise useless additives, preservatives and E-whatnots, but mostly, we all know that homemade always tastes better! We’re now enjoying freshly-baked cookies, our own dressings, tender stews, …

Recipe: Hilde’s banana bread

  • Put 3 ripe bananas and 3 whole eggs into a blender and pulse.
  • Add 150g of rolled oats and 1 teaspoon of baking powder and mix well.
  • Mix in a handful of chopped or blended nuts of your choosing.
  • Pour the batter into a cake tin, and bake for 20 minutes at 180°C.

2. Go local

We’ve been hunting for local farmers and food suppliers in and around Antwerp. We’ve already selected a couple of dedicated and honest partners to supply us with fair, top-quality ingredients. One of them is Pakt, for veggies and meats. And while we love our boerkes, we’re also sampling some local beers for our friday nights – first up, Seefbier!

3. Sync with the seasons

We’re going to pay more attention to the time of year. This isn’t a punishment: veggies and fruits have much more flavor in season! We’ll also be a bit more friendly to the environment, by avoiding foods that are grown in heated greenhouses, picked prematurely, or shipped here from hundreds of miles away. Good for the planet, good for us.

4. Eat plant-based first

While we’re talking about the environment: it’s no secret that plant-based foods have a much lower impact on our ecological footprint than meat and dairy products. And collectively, Belgians don’t eat nearly enough vegetables, even though they provide us with essential nutrients! By focusing on plant-based foods first, anyone who passes by our buffet should be encouraged to plate a serious portion of colourful veggies.

Recipe: Hilde’s mushroom pasta roll-ups

  • Cook the lasagna sheets (al dente) and place them on a kitchen towel to dry and cool.
  • Meanwhile, clean and chop your mushrooms. You can use any kind; a mix of wild mushrooms is especially good.
  • Finely chop an onion.
  • Sautée the mushrooms and onion in garlic butter with some thyme.
  • In a saucepan, combine ricotta cheese, cream and a stock cube into a creamy sauce.
  • Scoop some mushroom mixture onto each lasagne sheet, and roll up.
  • Place the rolls in an oven dish, and pour the sauce evenly over the rolls.
  • Add some grated cheese on top, and bake for 20 minutes at 200°C.
  • Serve with some rucola and pine nuts.

5. Meat? YES!

Focusing on plants doesn’t mean we’re kicking meat out the door (certain coworkers might follow, and we can’t have that). Also, we all love our burgers, from time to time. But let’s be honest: a lot of those pre-made, prepackaged frozen meat products we used in the past don’t really qualify as meat anymore! To avoid this, we’re switching to straight-from-Bella-the-cow meats and dairy. Fresh home-made burgers and massaged chicken breasts await us, instead of frozen leftovers.

6. Reduce waste

As we (unfortunately) lack psychic powers, we sometimes buy too much. We were already making soup from those surpluses, but we can do more! Auntie Hilde is now focusing the most efficient ways of reusing leftover foods: freezing fresh produce, incorporating it in casseroles, making compost of it, and much more. And of course, we strive to buy only as much food as we will eat.

We’re also taking a hard look at the other type of waste… There’s already plenty of trash in the world, so we’re cutting out unnecessary packaging.

In practice, this means that we’re planning meals better so that we can always buy our necessities in bulk. It also means that our vending machines didn’t make the move with us: no more soda, and no more sugar-filled and prepackaged cookies and cereals either. Instead, we’re preparing a healthy homemade breakfast every day (think yoghurt, fresh granola, and fruit), followed by varied lunches, natural drinks and freshly-baked snacks.

Love goes through the stomach, as they say, so we all connect during lunch and at the coffee corner! We’re making healthier, local and freshly made snacks, drinks, breakfast, lunch, and more a part of our personal development – and an appetising fringe benefit ;)

Sustainable eating is d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!