Lila, Chop!

About Christina

Christina Hallalulu

My name is Christina. I am the owner of Lila, Chop! and the Instagram account christinasophon. Delila-Sky (a.k.a "Lila") is my Siberian Husky and muse behind the name of this recipe blog. I'm half-Thai, half-Swedish, and currently live in Toulouse, France where I'm studying nutrition alongside a Masters degree in Air Transport Management (an odd combination, huh?). I'm passionate about everything related to health, fitness, coffee, travel, scuba-diving, and of course, food. Gourmet, fine-dining, gastronomy food, in fact. I am also a pilot, and I love to fly.

Christina the pilot
Becoming a pilot.

But let's talk about my love of healthy gourmet food—a supposed oxymoron.

Christina in kitchen uniform
The immaculately dressed pastry chef.

Having graduated from Ecole hôteliere Ed Lausanne in Switzerland, I suddenly found myself with a some time on my hands and the usual pressing decisions to make about what to do with one's life. Being the food-lover and health-nut that I am, there had to be something I could do with this! Something non-traditional, something that would reflect my personal journey, creativity, and beliefs.

Joke about vegetarians
Vegetarians...

Raised as a pesce-vegetarian and having spent the better part of my teens and early twenties yo-yo-dieting and obsessively experimenting with different food regimes, (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, raw food, paleo, macrobiotic, and detox fasts), I was fundamentally fed up of dieting and restricting myself. I joined the "anti-diet" health movement, without even realising there was such a thing. I started eating chicken, and for the first time in my life, tried beef. I actually really liked it!

I have always been a foodie; some of my favourite childhood memories include digging into snow fish at one of Bangkok's top Italian restaurants, eating pasta with fresh truffles in a Swiss alpine restaurant, and baking Swedish cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) with my grandmother.

Me and K, fighting over a kanelbulle
Letting K have the first kanelbulle bite, for he would later help me build this site.

I love fine-dining and the culinary arts. One of my favourite classes in college was molecular gastronomy. I love beautifully-presented dishes and that moment when the cheese or dessert trolley comes out at the end of a meal, right after the bread-crumbing. In fact, I'm a real food snob. But what I can be most accused of, is that I possess a terrible sweet tooth. My favourite desserts in the world include molten chocolate cake (molleaux au chocolat) and sticky toffee pudding. Now imagine what you would get if these two sinfully rich and sugary desserts had a love-child: Swedish sticky chocolate cake, kladdkaka. Yup, that's the best one of all, and what I lived off of during my boarding-school days.

Spending four-years at the world's most renown hotel school did nothing but cultivate and refine my taste and interest in food. Day trip to a chocolate factory for a history of chocolate followed by coffee and truffle-pairing? Hell, yes. Internship at Nestlé Nespresso for dark chocolate and Grand Cru espresso-tasting? Yes, yes! An expanding waistline as a consequence of all this? Unfortunately, yes as well.

Christina and Lila in a Chocolate factory
Indulging our olfactory senses at the chocolate factory in Gruyeres, Switzerland.

So I had a problem: I could not coincide this love of food with my passion for health and fitness, with my pride in wanting visible abs, and my sound belief in taking care of one's body by nourishing it with wholesome, lean and natural foods.

That was the perpetual conflict: my taste buds wanted one thing, my body said another. Above all, after years of illness and general ill-treatment of my own body, I was just starting to heal physically. For the first time in my life, I was hitting the gym regularly, and hard. Six days a week, two hours a day: lifting, cardio, and high intensity interval training (HIIT) from bodyrocktv. I switched the focus of my workouts from cardio to strength-training and weight-lifting, and only then did the results start to show. I began to find myself in the best shape of my life, and getting continually stronger, fitter, and leaner every month.

Christina squatting 60kg
Squatting 60 kg

This could only have been possible with the right approach to food and nutrition, however. You know that saying, you can't out-exercise a bad diet? Well, it's true; I had to make sure that what I was putting into my body would give me sustained energy to last throughout my workouts, and enough protein to repair my muscle tissue after. Without wanting to restrict myself, and stubbornly refusing to get sucked back into any diet mentality, I had to learn how to eat properly for this intensity of exercise and for my fitness goals.

Sadly, there seemed to be no room for a gourmet-foodie in this lifestyle. Only boring cottage-cheese salads, egg-white omelettes, cardboard-tasting protein bars and weird-smelling protein shakes! (Every time such dire thoughts crossed my mind, I would find myself inexplicably fantasising about ice cream.)

Christina posing for magnum ice cream
Pouting for some magnum, even in Phuket Thailand paradise

Fortunately, I found a way around that; the perfect compromise between food, fitness and figure (the 3 F's). It was clean cooking and baking. By clean, I mean using whole, organic, unprocessed nutrient-dense ingredients. Foods low in sugar and saturated/trans fat, that are as close to their natural state as possible. And then protein powder, of course.

Thanks to Instagram, I found hundreds of recipe ideas from fellow health-foodies, and tips from fitness models on how to make decadent, protein-rich desserts compatible with almost any meal plan. By protein-rich, I mean incorporating protein powder into the actual recipes themselves. In fact, I learned that the one major secret ingredient was baking with protein powder. I call this the sex appeal behind my healthy recipes, because it's the one ingredient that spiffs up my creations in terms of consistency, flavour, sweetness and nutritional value without the empty calories of traditional desserts.

Christina on the lat pull-down machine
On the lat pull-down machine, well-nourished and working hard!

I began experimenting in the kitchen and inviting my girlfriends over for Sunday brunch to taste my clean, healthy and protein-filled creations. Everything from two-layered frozen smoothies to protein pancakes to home-made protein bars and cheesecake... it was decadent. It was incredible. It was a foodie's heaven. And I realised I was good at it. Pretty soon all my friends were asking me for my recipes, and I could not keep up with scribbling them down on post-its or writing them in the comments of my Instagram photos.

Christina's healthy brunch recipes
Success of the healthy girl's brunch chez-moi

One day, someone very special to me called K, decided to help me finally start my own blog. Being the most regular sampler of all my recipes, he knew more about my protein creations and the process behind them than anyone else. Wracking our minds for a suitable name (the protein bakery seemed too generic) he was inspired by my beloved Lila, the travelling husky and cat-connoisseur. The dog who is known for her refined tastes and response to the Chop! command, and who can be expected to make a sudden appearance in the kitchen when I'm baking, deserves to name my online cafe and recipe collection.

Thus, Lila, Chop! was born. The online cafe and recipe blog that promises Clandestine Health food and Living. Fatally delicious, baking clean with protein powder.

Lila with doggy room-service
Lila the spoilt husky, enjoying room-service

Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

I am currently studying to become a certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant by American Fitness Professionals & Associates, the only board-certified and recognised online nutritional certification program. As part of my newly–expanded Lila, Chop! Consulting service, I offer customised meal plans, cooking classes, and nutrition consultation sessions along with my recipes. With a general focus on eating to build up the metabolism, I don't believe in dieting; I believe in eating well — If you're interested, contact me at christina@lilachop.com

Warning: I will never put you on a diet regimen. I will not recommend any fad diets or detox fasts. I will never tell you to cut out any food groups or prohibit any one specific food. Instead, I will teach you how to make healthy choices about what to eat, when, and how much in as feasible and sustainable a manner as possible according to your lifestyle, your needs, and your goals. Remember, there's always room for dessert.