Fat Free and Frumpy

'Dầu dừa' photo (c) 2012, Phu Thinh Co - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Nutrition seems to thrive on making cavalier broad sweeping statements– categorically don’t eat that, absolutely do eat that, omit this from your diet it is SOO dangerous. Admittedly, I choose not to eat certain things, mainly as I have allergy issues and I listen to how my body feels after eating.

Macronutrients- carbs, fats, protein- are constantly being demonized and when I was an impressionable teen the message was low to no fat was a healthy choice.

Had I but known.

Our desire to lump all fat into the ‘will make you fat’ basket has meant that this misunderstood nutrient has disappeared from several well-intentioned peoples diets. The fight against trans fat has become a fight against all fats, good or bad and encouraged companies, interested in their pockets rather than our own health, removing fat from products, bumping up the sugar content to appeal to the ‘health conscious’ individual.

I too throughout high school and university was seduced by the fat free = weight free façade. Despite losing weight, I looked pallid, had cracked nails and yellow skin…little wonder, when I thought eating fat free yoghurt loaded with sugar and a can of diet coke was going to make my skin glow and my health shine. Furthermore, the ‘weight I lost’ was clearly muscle tissue, so despite being smaller I was still ‘frumpy’ and without any clear muscle definition.

I realize now what a disservice I was doing to myself. Fat can be such an important part of a healthy diet and cutting all forms of it out is quite wrong. By removing the fat, not only was I upping the sugar I was consuming but I was also removing flavour!

My diet today incorporates healthy fats from a variety of sources: mainly macadamia nuts (lowest in Polyunsaturated Fats – another blog post my friends), avocados, and coconut and olive oils in moderation. If anyone hasn’t tried coconut oil I can’t recommend it enough!

As a quick aside, yes- coconut oil is very much on trend at the moment, ‘because it’s like, so amazing’, like anything, it isn’t the miracle cure to fat loss.

Rather it is just damn tasty and yes it has some pretty unique health properties that you simply can’t dismiss.

Benefits of Coconut Oil:

▪                High smoke point- you can nuke the crap out of coconut oil and it doesn’t sabotage the oil’s health properties. This is why it is great as an all-round cooking oil.

▪                Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)- medium chain triglycerides- a type of saturated fat that your body readily uses for energy because they are easily digested by the body. This thermogenic effect has meant it is now ‘all the rage’ in bodybuilding arenas. You can even buy fat burning supplements with the main ingredient being, MCT’s. Although a tsp of the stuff tastes much nicer than a little pill.

▪                Digestion- my favourite part of coconut oil is the fact that the body readily digests it. This takes pressure off your other vital organs; pancreas/liver unlike other fats. Anything less taxing on the body is also going to help with your bodies overall stress levels. Less stress = less cortisol which equates to better sleep and better health. With winter in full throttle at the moment, a less stressed body is the best defense against a cold!

▪                 Antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral- which is why traditional Ayurveda practice suggests oil pulling; in which you swish coconut oil in the mouth as a form of effective teeth cleaning. Not bad right?

Now before you go and down tablespoons of the stuff, moderation is key. Just ensure that in your pursuit to be a healthy hot someone you ensure that fats are a vital component to your diet.

If anything your skin will thank you this winter!

My Coconut Oil at 7AM this morning….solid and a little bit amazing when eaten with a spoon.

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Beauty Food for Cellulite

'German Split Pea Soup (Erbsensuppe)' photo (c) 2009, thebittenword.com - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

Everyone wants to rid their cellulite – it is without a doubt the most common query that arises in my inbox.

Without wanting to sound like a television commercial-

‘cellulite happens’

and while there is no pinpoint solution, there are so many mechanics within your body that you can support in order to even out your skin tone down there.  Seriously.

Firstly, cellulite does not occur simply from excess fat – I know of many a skinny girl who is covered in the stuff.

Celullite is

– Hormonal (too much estrogen)

– Genetic (dam)

– Lack of connective tissue (food to the rescue)

And with many people taught to choose skinless and boneless meat cuts for fear of animal fat there is little wonder that they will ever develop the connective tissue they desire.

Collagen-rich bone broth will give your skin the equipment that it needs to help itself. This is why I love a good osso buco, lamb shank stew or bowl of authentic chicken soup. Anything where you add animal joints to a meal will increase the collagen content – and boy does it taste nice too!

Gelatin rich bones are fantastic for boosting your ow collagen. Gelatin, essentially the cooked form of collagen, is also a much cheaper form of botox if you were thinking of going down that route…

Traditionally diets were filled with gelatin, as most people knew the importance of stewing a whole joint of meat in order to extract the full array of minerals and amino acids from the meal (and also to prevent wastage!). Today, we remove all the ‘offending’ bones, meaning we miss out on integral nutrients, nutrients that help to pacify inflammation – it is little wonder why we always get sick!

Now while it is all very well to make your own bone broth and wack it into your diet- why not incorporate the bone into a recipe?

Below is my recipe for sexy skin:

a gelatinous, creamy soup that melts in your mouth..perfect for these colder winter nights.

Cauliflower & Ham Hock Soup

Serves:

4-6

Ingredients:

1 onion, sliced

1 Head of Cauliflower roughly chopped

1 Litre (4 cups) water (can add more if you want a thinner soup)

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 sprig of fresh thyme

1 ham hock

2 carrots, diced

1 cup sliced celery

Celtic sea salt to taste

cracked black pepper to serve

Method:

  1. Put the onions, water, pepper and thyme into a large saucepan.
  2. Add the ham bone, bring slowly to the boil, reduce heat and simmer half-covered for an hour.
  3. Add the carrots celery, cauliflower and cook for another hour.
  4. Remove thyme and discard.
  5. Take out the ham bone, cut all meat from the bone removing any skin, shred the meat up.
  6. Allow the soup to cool and with a barmix, blend the soup until creamy.
  7.  Return all the meat back to the soup. Prior to serving add a dash of salt and cracked black pepper.

If you let this cool and let it sit in the fridge- the next day you may notice that your soup has turned to jelly.

That’s gelatin.

That’s what you want.

Rest assured once you heat it up- the soup will melt back into a creamy consistency.

And on a plus side- this soup is excellent to transport to work because you are guaranteed it won’t leak into your handbag. 😉

Diet or Training? Which is Better?

weight loss, rapid weight loss, tone it up, cardio is bad,

One of the biggest pitfalls in women (and men’s) ‘toning’ journeys is their diet.

Diet- is everything.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the gym will help you get that tight, toned derriere you are after, plus also assist in strengthening your bones and providing a great release of endorphins… but it will not help you progress in leaps and bounds if your diet is not completely in place.

By the same token, when I see articles telling you that a Mars Bar will require you to run for 60 minutes on the treadmill in order to burn it off – I know the only useful impact this knowledge has on me is that it scares me to reconsider my food choices on the whole. Generally, these articles severely undermine the complexity of us humans and that the whole calories in = calories out equation is somewhat flawed.

Do Calories Matter?

Yes.

 Are they the ultimate solution to weight loss?

No.

If only – then I could indulge in three chocolate bars a day, chuck in a few protein shakes and meet my caloric requirements.  That is – so long as I burn off the equivalent calories in doing back to back spin classes.

Quality of food is just as important as quantity of food.

 And if you think you can eat anything you want so long as you burn it off at the gym – here are a few reasons, why this notion is somewhat flawed.

1) If you had to focus on diet or exercise for weight loss – diet would win hands down. As long as your diet is bad, exercise will never be your best friend in fat loss. Your diet has more impact on your metabolism than your treadmills hours.  (Note the word fat loss, not weight loss – the two are highly different). While exercise, weight training particularly, allows you to fine tune your goals, by ensuring you are losing fat not muscle tissue – if I had to choose between adding an extra 20 minutes to my gym time or going home to prepare the weeks meals ahead of time, I would opt for the latter any day.

2) How we exercise is a vital consideration for the final result. If we adopt the calories in vs. calories out mantra than how we exercise is irrelevant, so long as we burn calories. However, weight training has a far different affect on our hormones than cardio. Weight training increases growth hormone levels, which assist in creating muscles and develops our fat burning ability, even when at rest. Rule number two then is that weight training wins out over cardio for fat loss.

3) When you eat bad food and try to exercise it off your body will reflect this. Often bad diets lead to you looking more bloated; retaining water and you will find it hard to be toned. Trying to use extensive cardio to out train your bad diet will not get you the look you are after. Eat less (crap) and do less will give you a much better physique.

 4) Doing too much cardio damages your adrenals and your metabolism. If you let exercise be the determiner for your weight, then you fall into the cardio trap – the more cardio you do, the more you feel compelled to do it to keep your results. And so you are stuck in a rut, where your body expects a certain amount of cardio or else you gain. Managing your fat loss through diet, in the long run, is much less stressful, far more empowering and will do wonders to ensure your metabolism is on fire and able to cope with a weekly indulgence or two.

 5) Long duration cardio makes you hungry. If you push your body through long cardio sessions, your body releases the hunger hormone ghrelin. Furthermore, over a long period of time your physical activity can affect your neurotransmitters, which have massive impacts on cravings. This is often why people recovering from severe restrictive eating disorders continue to have issues with binging. The solution? Opt for short duration, high Intensity interval training, no longer than 30 minutes if you choose to add a little cardio into your exercise regime.

The take home? Use the gym wisely, efficiently and relish its ability to provide you an inspired training community.

Do not let it become your only weapon in weight loss – otherwise your metabolism will be the biggest loser and not you.

Health to Glow Episode 6

 

This week Mel and I are talking sugar.

Now before you get your knickers in a knot and start removing all trace elements of the sweet stuff from your diets – there are some sugars that nourish and support you.

Choosing the, “all or nothing approach” is

-drastically boring

-drastically difficult

-drastically unrealistic

..and won’t make you the poster child for healthy eating.

While I live by a ‘low sugar’ lifestyle. 

I eat fruit…

and I don’t damn its fructose content.

There is a bunch of other stuff happening in that morsel of a blueberry, apple or orange you are devouring than sugar itself. These all have a massive impact on how your body digests and uses the sugar contained in it.

Indeed, contrary to popular opinion there is no significant evidence that fructose is the evil fattening toxin that people are claiming it to be. And for one more good read – take a look here – sugar is not fattening. 

 

Perhaps the most ‘dangerous’ aspect of sugar is its ability to lead to overconsumption. Period.

But I would wager that not many people can down a watermelon in one sitting. Or would want to for that matter.

Drinking soft drink laced with sugar or a large fructose sweetened beverage won’t keep your appetite at bay. Generally, when someone adds a wholesome form of sugar (as in fruit) into their diet, they will reduce their food consumption elsewhere.

The moral of the story is once again – listen to your body- and don’t believe everything you read.

..Oh and take a look at the ‘crap’ sugar Mel and I are ranting on about in the film. Far too often this sweetener is being recommended because it’s ‘LOW G.I’. Regardless, it is pure fructose at its best…

..Above and beyond this rant…your thoughts on sugars?

Has reducing them in your life helped or hindered you?

 

 

 

Cashew Nut Burgers

healthywholeholly, vegetarian, sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, burgers

Sealed with a Kiss…x

Despite what we read, soy is not the miracle health food it is claimed to be.

Rather it is SUPER cheap to produce and the profit margins are HIGH. 

SO why not tell everyone to drink, eat and be merry with fake milk, fake meat and fake energy bars?

Soy is a relatively new food, which is probably why it is one of the top allergenic foods, coming closely behind, gluten, dairy and corn. Soy, like grains, also contains phytates. These are chemicals which bind to important minerals so you can end up short on zinc, iron and other nutrients if you eat them all the time.

And if you don’ think you eat soy all the time…then have a look at

 99% of prepackaged food and there will be a soy ingredient in their to fill it out.

These GMO sources of Soy are often processed in aluminum casks that leach aluminum into the final product. Little wonder then, when I first had my hair mineral analysis read, my aluminum (among other things) was off the scale. I can hypothesise this is in part due to a teenage diet comprised of ‘healthy’ prepackaged crackers, bars, milk and crap chocolate.

Of course, when prepared properly and eaten every so often, not everyday, soy foods such as miso and tempeh are perfectly fine. However, if they become your go to sources of protein, than I would start to worry about

a) the lack of variety in your diet

b) your hormonal profile (as an endocrine disruptor, soy can and does wreak havoc on your hormones)

Enough said?

In the interests of the vegetarian friends I have, I have decided to whip up a ‘veggie burger’ devoid of the usual soy fillers, weird numbers and suspect ingredients. They are super yummy, super simple and quite fun to make – if I do say so myself.

———————————————————

Cashew Burgers with the lot

1/3 cup buckwheat soaked overnight in 1tsp of Celtic Sea Salt and filtered water

1.5 cups cashews

2 tbs coconut flour

½ red onion – cut into chunks

2 cloves garlic

1 cup of flat parsley (or your favourite herb)

2 tbs macadamia oil

  1. Drain the buckwheat of its water. Rinse the buckwheat to remove all starch.
  2. Add buckwheat to a small pot, filled with 2/3 cup boiling water. Bring to boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove and fluff with a fork.
  3. Combine all ingredients except for oil into food processor.
  4. Form into patties and refrigerate for an hour to firm up. ( If you are in a hurry, skip this step)
  5. Remove from the fridge and heat oil over a medium heat.
  6. Add a few of your patties and seal them to cook. Say 2 minutes a side. Do this in batches to ensure that each patty has the care and attention it deserves.

Et voila! Meatless, soyless, processed foodless vegetarian patties, for my veggo friends.

x

Dairy for Calcium – is it a Must?

'Nut Milk' photo (c) 2011, Veganbaking.net - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I haven’t drunk milk in years.

Even as a child I found dairy overdose left me nauseous and sick in the stomach (what an understatement that was).

As a result, this negligence in the dairy department has left me without a soft spot for the calcium rich beverage. And don’t get me started on cheese. I just find the whole thing far too pungent – much to the dismay of my French home stay family. Try explaining to a French family, in your entry level French that you found cheese…. unappetising. ‘Quelle horreaur!”

A few of my nutritionally savvy friends like to scare me with the horrors of osteoporosis. Where will I get my calcium from if I don’t drown myself in glasses of milk, cheese and low fat ice-cream?

If weak bones were a result of calcium deficiency, then why don’t Australians, who consume more dairy products than 80% of the world, have some of the strongest bones?

Indeed, Americans, who take more calcium supplements than any other country, also top the list for the most fractures and brittle bones.

Interestingly, in a study from Harvard Medical School, women who drunk two or more glasses of milk per day had a 45% higher risk of hip fractures than the women who drank less milk. And yes, while studies such as these are not a cause for conclusion, it does lead you to question whether the push to consume more than a glass of a milk a day is enforced by the ulterior motives of Australia’s agricultural department.

Ensuring your body is in a state of equilibrium is your answer for all over health, including strong bones.

Make certain you eat real food that doesn’t inflame your system and make sleep your priority.  

Bone health can be supported with an integrative approach – one that involves whole foods that are easily digested and a few simple practices each day.

  1. Get your rays – Vitamin D is vital for bone strength. Try to get 20 minutes of sun exposure daily.  Egg Yolks are also a good source of Vitamin D; so don’t chuck out the yolk!
  2. Green veggies with each meal! Breakfast doesn’t need to be a carb fest!
  3. Fishy fishy- the tinned stuff with all the bones is excellent for calcium. Essential fatty acids are great for bone strength too so consider supplementing with fish oil if you think your intake of fatty fish is slim to none. 😉
  4. Lift like a bro – that’s right, weights 3 times a week. Stop running on the treadmill (which is friggin boring anyway) and push your way through the macho fest at the gym. Lift heavy = strong bones = sexy body.
  5. Happy hormones – Get your bloods tested for estrogen levels. Low estrogen is an indicator for osteoporosis.
  6. Nuts so fast – with your handfuls of nuts, but don’t remove them! Nuts have great protein, fibre and fat content. A good all rounder snack. Plus they are high in minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. Interestingly magnesium is necessary for your body to process calcium, so stop taking a calcium supplement if it has no magnesium in it!

After this rant and rave- I still like a good creamy beverage that packs a taste punch. Forgive me if I may appear blunt, but milk is pretty much null and void of taste. That is if you don’t pour it over a bowl of cocoa pops and watch the milk transform to a creamy brown. (A fond pastime of my former years…)

Which is why, if I want a smoothie, a bowl of buckwheat porridge or a glass of goodness to keep the ‘bed bugs from biting’ I like to make my own ‘mylks’.

Always. 😉

My favourite nut milk so far, was inspired by a recent conversation I had with an Indian/Malay friend of mine – as we reminisced about the wonders that is a Sri Lankan Love Cake (if you have never tried it – ask your Sri Lankan acquaintance to make one).

Sri Lankan Love Cake, although filled with many variations, is often infused with cashews, rosewater and cardamom with bucket loads of sugar. It is also usually gluten free!

Obviously this milk, comes sans the sugar but with lots and lots of LOVE 😉

—————————————————————————-

Cashew Rosewater, Cardamom Milk

1.5 litres (6 cups) water

3 cups of unsalted cashews (try to get these from a supplier who has a high turnover, the stuff in the supermarkets are just rancid – until you try the taste difference, you won’t believe me)

2 tsp of liquid Stevia

2 cardamom pods, bashed

1 tsp of rosewater (less is more, don’t overdose!)

  1. Blend the first three ingredients in a good blender. Do this in batches and ensure it is smooth.
  2. Decant your milk into a large jug and add your cardamom.
  3. Let stand for 2 hours.
  4. Strain the mixture through a muslin cloth or nut milk bag. Stir in the rosewater and extract then serve.

NOTE: (With the cashew solids, discard the cardamom and use in baking to thicken batter. Experiment with making pancake batter or adding the same ratio of soaked buckwheat for creamy breakfast porridge – experiment, but don’t chuck it! SO wasteful!)

Avocado Thin Mints

Grain Free Raw Vegan Chocolate Thin Mints. Peppermint Avocado

I am obsessed with making raw chocolate.

It is so unbelievably easy to master and furthermore- it means I have ultimate control over the ingredients I put into my bite size morsels.

I LOVE quality ingredients –

and too often most ‘low sugar’ chocolates are filled with malitol, a type of sugar alcohol from the polyol family. Those suffering from IBS often find that these exacerbate bloating, gas and diarrhea. And while a little of it is OK – over the long term, I think consuming anything that makes your stomach bulge is never  good thing! (And I think most would agree).

In its most base form my RAW CHOCOLATE has 3 ingredients

1. Coconut Oil

2. Raw Cacao Powder

3. Stevia to taste

That’s it. Melt oil, stir in cacao, stir in stevia, whack in fridge, let set and remove.

Cacao powder is a particularly miraculous source of magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant and mood stabiliser – no wonder we turn to it in times of stress 😉

With the array of ‘super foods’ out there, it is easy to get a little overwhelmed. I personally buy Cacao on a frequent basis -research has shown that the antioxidants in cacao are highly stable and easily available to our human metabolism and

with nearly 4 times the amount of antioxidants as Goji Berries, and topping the ORAC scale, 

cacao’s ability to combat free radical tissue damage is impressive.

Finally, out of most the super foods I find Cacao inexpensive, with a little going a long way.

With this basic recipe in mind, I’ve been trying to re-create tastes and textures of former chocolate indulgences that I now struggle to digest.

Hand in hand with digestion issues goes an innate desire to consume foods that really feel settled in the stomach – and not just settle for second best.

Which is why I have managed to create a recipe that allows me to indulge in my love for chocolate and fresh produce.

Why not I say!

————————————————————————————-

Thin Mints with a Twist

Ingredients

¼ cup raw organic cacao powder

¼ cup organic coconut oil

1 tsp of liquid stevia (or to taste)

1 avocado

1 tsp of liquid stevia

1-2 drops of peppermint oil

Method 

1. Over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, place a heatproof mixing bowl over the top. Add your cacao powder and coconut oil and melt.

2. Add in stevia and remove from heat.

3. Spoon dessert spoons into patty pans – leaving half the mixture in the bowl.

4. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes or until frozen.

5. While waiting for your ingredients to freeze, grab your avocado and mash the flesh with the peppermint oil and stevia. Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking.

6. Remove the frozen chocolate. Place small dollops of your avocado mixture on top of the frozen chocolate mixture.

7. With the remaining chocolate (you may need to re-melt), spoon a final layer on top of the avocado, ensuring the avocado is sealed from view.

8. Place in the freezer and allow to set.

Remove – Eat- Enjoy.

X

Health to Glow Episode 4

Melissa and I, debate the pro’s and cons of deodorant and perfume – should you, shouldn’t you?

…if you want to embrace a ‘cleaner’ ‘friendlier’ fragrance, Mel and I suggest essential oils.

Let me know – what’s your favourite essential oil?

I LOVE Geranium.

Smells divine on and lasts and lasts and lasts…

Pumpkin Hazelnut Crackers

'Raw Flax 01' photo (c) 2011, innacoz - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I love a good grazing session, as much as the next person – unfortunately, I don’t think grazing is really great for those with delicate digestive systems which is why I try not to bring things into the house that will encourage grazing. It is best to leave temptation at the door to prevent my eager eyes getting the better of me.

Yes…will power is evasive at the best of times and when there is a block of dark chocolate or jar of almond butter in my way these can get the better of me.

Despite this conundrum, I do appreciate that snacks in all their shapes and sizes are hard to avoid – especially when it comes to socialising and family get togethers, which is why I always advocate bringing your own lovingly prepared creations to the table to ensure that there are tasty and nutritious options for you to eat and to avoid you looking somewhat socially inept. Tis true, but not eating can appear to be an anti-social behaviour among people, that and not drinking. But that’s a whole other article.

Which is why today I bring you the best ‘cracker’ since the Sakata. It has a sneaky vegetable in it, healthy fats and packs an awesome taste punch!

Ready to Mix and Bake?

 

Pumpkin Hazelnut Crackers

1/2 cup grated raw pumpkin

2 eggs

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons coconut flour

2 tablespoons hazelnut meal

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

  1. Grab all your ingredients and stick them in your best blender – blend well into a smooth batter.
  2. On a lined baking tray, spread a thin layer of batter.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes
  4. Remove from oven, cut into nice uniform squares (well as uniform as you can!)
  5. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes until the crackers are crispy.
  6. Sprinkle with a little more Celtic Sea Salt and then serve!

(should get about 20 crackers…and if they look all out of whack and resemble hexagons instead of rectangles…remember rustic is de rigueur)