You’ve probably seen Dutch fitness model and trainer Jill de Jong in the latest Peleton commercial, on the cover of Women’s Health and in ads for L’Oréal, Avon and Izod. She was also the real-life body model for Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider video game. But before she was sought after for her fit physique and workout expertise, she was a calorie-counting teenager trying to fit in with the other calorie-counting models in her apartment. After years of feeling deprived, and still frustratingly bloated, things had to change.
De Jong turned her attention to nutrition and became a certified personal trainer and health coach. Now she’s sharing what she learned along the way and her favorite healthy recipes in a new cookbook, Models Do Eat (BenBella). In collaboration with nine of her model friends, the book includes over 100 recipes that promote energy and weight loss, plus the glowing skin and shiny hair we all long for.
Here De Jong shares what kind of meals a typical day includes, the snacks that satisfy her cravings and the recipe for her Carrot Quinoa Bowl from the new cookbook.
What do you typically eat in a day?
I like to change it up. I hardly ever eat the same thing for breakfast.
Breakfast: Oatmeal, avocado toast, scrambled egg with onion and spinach, yogurt with fruit, green smoothie
Lunch: Sandwich, salad, soup, dinner leftovers
Dinner: Buddha bowl (grain/veggie/protein), sweet potatoes, roasted veggies or a large salad
I eat plant-based, but I’m not a vegetarian. When I train hard, I might add in another meal.
When you feel the urge to snack on something, what do you choose?
If I crave something sweet, I will make myself a smoothie or a cup of tea with some milk and honey. If I need some more, I like to munch on veggies and hummus, nuts or I’ll make my own popcorn. A slice of sprouted grain toast with some butter and cheese always hits the spot [very Dutch].
What’s one of your favorite recipes from Models Do Eat?
The garbanzo truffle burger wrapped in lettuce is epic and the carrot quinoa bowl is so flavorful.
How many days a week do you exercise?
I currently train for the LA Marathon and run four times a week, and I’ll do one HIIT training session and one to two yoga classes. I exercise five days out of the week and have two rest days. After the LA Marathon I’ll be focused again on triathlon training, I’ll add swimming and cycling to the list.
As the real-life model for Lara Croft, you helped with promoting the video game. Did you train in a specific fighting style?
I traveled around the world to promote the game with my team. Performances at trade shows, meet and greet with fans, TV segments, interviews, etc. I worked with a choreographer to get fluid with a sequence of moves but didn’t learn a specific fighting style. It was really fun to get into character and perform for so many fans.
Did you learn any stunts?
An interesting stunt I performed was for a TV show. I was put in a harness and pulled up to a really high studio ceiling. I was waiting up there to open the show; as they lowered me from the ceiling I did a somersault in the air and had to time it perfectly to land on my feet next to the host.
Carrot Quinoa Bowl
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1½ cups fresh carrot juice
- ½ Tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ⅔ cup chopped apple
- ½ avocado, sliced or chopped
- 2 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
- Sea salt, to taste
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the carrot juice, ginger and quinoa. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is simmering, lightly toast the almonds in a dry sauté pan and prepare the apple and avocado.
Divide the quinoa and toppings between two plates. Season gently with salt to enhance sweetness, and serve.