Tag Archives: protein

Challenge for August: No Processed Sugars! (and Raw Carrot Cake Recipe)

Hey everyone! Happy Friday to all!

I know I’ve been M.I.A. and have been neglecting you (I’m so sorry!) but rest assured I have been keeping healthy, staying dry (I completed the Dry July charity challenge and raised over $500 for cancer research) and busy dreaming up all sorts of new ideas to post about.

Dry July

Staying booze-free wasn’t too hard at all. The most challenging times were the first few Friday afternoons (I love an after-work red to kick off the weekend), a friend’s 30th (but I got over it after the first hour) and another friend’s birthday dinner (and I soon got over that after the food arrived – oink). I did however, find myself eating a lot more sweets and treats, justifying to myself that since I wasn’t drinking, I was consuming fewer calories anyway, or they were at least cancelling each other out.

BUT as we all know, it’s not (all) about the calories right?  I was consuming more processed sugar than before and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you don’t need me to tell you that nasty processed sugar is addictive and detrimental to your health! Yuck!

There are many opinions out there about sugar – processed and naturally occurring – and how much one should consume. I don’t purport to be an expert on it so I won’t preach here, but I will share with you what works for me, and how I want to eat.

Challenge for August

Now bringing it back to where I started off.. Taking on the Dry July challenge was fantastic – it gave me a goal to work towards and achieving it was very rewarding. I felt positive in body and mind. So I thought, why not take on another challenge in August: No processed sugars?!

Let me be clear: This isn’t a license for me to go and eat barrels of fruit a day and ladle honey over my morning muesli like it’s going out of fashion – a balanced diet is still important – it is an attempt to minimise the amount of processed sugars consumed. Sugar is in so many unsuspecting food items (like Ketchup and many of the Asian sauces we cook with plus so much more!) I can’t possibly cut them all out, but I can at least try to make “sugar swaps” – using healthier natural alternatives where possible – and cut out those blocks of Cadbury after dinner each night, and that 3pm cupcake at work, “you know, because it’s Tuesday”.

I’ll be experimenting with some different sugar alternatives, and working on some other greener meals and snacks, so stay tuned!

Raw Carrot Cake*

Depending on which way you look at it, this could be the perfect (or counter-intuitive) way to bring on my August challenge: a raw carrot cake using only natural ingredients and no added processed sugars (only honey and fruit are used as sweeteners). Just remember that cake is meant to be a treat, so enjoy in moderation.

raw carrot cake

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups walnuts
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic rolled oats – I used my morning raw muesli mix already stocked in the pantry (my cake batter was scattered with almonds, pepitas, sultanas and coconut – yum!) 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt – I love a touch of saltiness in my sweet!
  • 12 large fresh dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots or pineapple – I used a combination of both
  • 2 large raw carrots, grated
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste – which I didn’t have so I used 2 tsp natural vanilla essence
  • 2 tbs raw protein powder

Method

  1. Combine walnuts, chia, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, protein powder, orange zest and salt into a food processor and processed until mixed and finely chopped.
  2. Add dates and apricots then process again until mixed through.
  3. Add grated carrot and vanilla and then process again until combined. The mix should now form a lovely dough.
  4. Tip into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add oats and kneed through the mixture.
  6. Press cake firmly into a 15-20cm baking tin that is lined with baking paper.
  7. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Leave at least 2 hours to allow the carrot cake to rest.
  8. Lick fingers and bowl.
  9. Enjoy as is or with your choice of frosting.

Frosting Ideas

  1. Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
  2. For a raw cashew or macadamia nut cream, combine 1 cup raw nuts with 1/2 cup orange juice or coconut water and a little vanilla. Blend in Vitamix until smooth and creamy
  3. For a cream cheese style frosting, combine 250g soft cream cheese with a little lemon zest, juice, vanilla and maple syrup and honey, and beat until combined and creamy. You can use quark or Neutachafel (try Flannery’s, I think Barambah organics makes a quark) or a naughty but easily-accessible option is Philadelphia cream cheese (not raw or sugar free!!).

This cake is rather dense, and will cut up into about 16 slices. I ate 3 in the first day – oops! Enjoy xx

*Recipe credit to Teresa Cutter, The Health Chef: http://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/07/raw-carrot-cake/
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Protein Power Balls

IMG_2147I’m a huge fan of Teresa Cutter (aka “The Healthy Chef”) and her approach to food – she creates delicious functional foods for optimum health and wellbeing.

I have been meaning to give these protein balls a try forever but have never gotten around to it, so Friday night when my girlfriend came over for healthy fish and veggies (and wine – what? It’s the weekend, plus isn’t a glass of wine good for you?!), we gave them a whirl. They turned out absolutely dangerously delicious!! Let’s just say we couldn’t stop at one..

Ingredients

  • 330g raw whole almonds or walnuts – I didn’t have quite that many almonds so made up about 50g of the difference with pistachios
  • 60g protein powder – I use ezyprotein (vanilla) which is an Australian certified organic, sprouted, bio-fermented, raw, wholegrain brown rice protein powder
  • 16 fresh dates, pitted
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder – I used raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbs natural vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • desiccated coconut, goji berries, cocoa, nuts for rolling

Method

  • Throw almonds, cinnamon, protein powder and cocoa into a food processor and process until the mix looks crumbly – Vitamix won’t work, I found this out the hard way.. but you can blitz the nuts in a Vitamix, chop up the dates and moosh all ingredients together with your hands in a big bowl. Get dirrrrty!
  • Add dates and vanilla extract and process again until the mix starts to come together
  • Add a splash of water if you need to so that the mixture is soft and forms a soft ball
  • Form into 14 decent sized balls
  • Roll in coconut or other suggested coatings and store in the fridge (up for 4 weeks, if they last that long!)

Nutritional Info (per ball)

  • Protein 8.2g
  • Carbs 7.6g
  • Total fat 12g
  • Saturated fat 0.9g
  • Fibre 2.8g
  • Kilojoules 703
  • Calories 168
Picture of Protien Power Balls

After-dinner treat

Recipe from: The Healthy Chef http://www.thehealthychef.com/2011/09/protein-power-balls/

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Meet My Friend, The Carb

Picture of different types of carbohydrates

Say WHO now?!!

Yes, you heard me right, let’s be friend with carbs.

That is, so long as they are the healthy wholesome not-super-processed kind and you’re not devouring all the dinner rolls in the breadbasket (unless you’re an Olympic athlete of course).

Carbophobia

I was inspired to write this post because I too, for a long time, was a fearer of all things starchy and carbohydrate, but after embarking back into my exercise regimen (I got lazy over Christmas), I found that I wasn’t able to get keep with with everyone at Barre Pilates or maintain the pace on my runs. My body was simply fatiguing too quickly. I had no energy and I could actually feel my muscles eating away at themselves! I wasn’t seeing any appreciable results from my training – no increased muscle mass, no fatloss (very disheartening).

I had tried to subscribe to a low-carb diet for a while, even trying Paleo for a bit, but I found it just didn’t work for me. In fact, I gained a ton of weight and couldn’t figure out why! Feeling frustrated, I decided to do some research of my own.

I was eating more than my fair share of nuts and avocados and falling into the common trap of “Oh it’s okay, these are healthy fats, I can have as much as I like”, inadvertently snacking on calorie-dense foods to fill that ‘carb-emptiness’ feeling. What I failed to remind myself was that my body doesn’t actually differentiate between good fats and bad fats (in terms of energy, I’m not talking about heart-health here), and that all fats consumed will be stored as just that – fat. I’m still an advocate of including fats in your diet, just make sure they are good fats and that they are portion controlled.

Quick Carb Science 101

Carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body to be used as energy. If you eat protein and fat with carbs, your body will use the carbs first, and store the rest. So, Atkins-esque peeps will advocate cutting out carbs to force your body to utilise energy from its body stores (“ketosis”). For me personally, it’s just not a sustainable way to live. I can’t train effectively or be productive at work or in other facets of my life.

We all know we will gain weight if we eat a diet full of creamy pastas and buttery croissants. The weight gain isn’t coming (soley) from the pasta or pastry, but the cream and butter that is being stored as fat because you’ve converted the available carbs to glucose first. So, it’s actually incorrect to say that “carbs are making me fat” – so long as you keep the quality and portions in-check, and keep your body moving, you’ll be fine!

Simply put: When your muscle and liver cells become too full of carbohydrates (ie. your bowl of rice is too big), your body will store the excess carbs as fat on your toosh.

Healthy Carbs

We all need to consume the correct amount of macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats) for our individual compositions and activity levels. Carbs are essential to our health and wellbeing, what matters most is the type of carbs we eat.

Choose unprocessed, low-GI carbs:**

Picture of a kiwifruit, apple, orange, pear, banana

The Fruits: kiwifruit, apple, orange, pear, banana

Picture of red lentils, beans, peas

The Legumes: red lentils, beans, peas

Picture of Basmati rice, brown rice, cous cous, wholemeal bread, spelt & rye bread, fruit & nut muesli

The Grains: basmati rice, brown rice, cous cous, wholemeal bread, spelt & rye bread (low-gluten), fruit & nut muesli

Picture of pumpkin, corn (fresh), sweet potato

The Veggies: pumpkin, corn (fresh), sweet potato (boiled)

Other options include: Fruits and veggies of course (loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants), soy beans, quinoa, grainy breads, cous cous, wild rice, buckwheat, millet, oats, amaranth..

Not being as active as usual?

Substitute the serve of carbs in your meal with a large serve of green veggies, especially at dinnertime.

Over-indulged a little?

Throw in “Booster Day” into your week. Essentially restrict the amount of carbs consumed, and force your body to turn to its fat stores for energy. But don’t do this for more than one day a week! Your body will go into starvation mode, slow your metabolism right down, and will cling onto every single morsel of food consumed.

Friends for Life

Coming into completing Week #5 of my diet makeover, I can honestly say that I have soaring energy levels, I’m training harder and better than ever, and my recovery time is much shorter. I’m also finally seeing some appreciable results, which is always encouraging.

The key is to feed your body what it needs in order to perform and rejuvenate. It took me a while to figure it all out and what works best for me (it’s hard with all the mixed messages out there). I hope my experience can help you achieve your health and fitness goals also.

Everyone is different, I would love to hear what works for you!

*One serve = 15g carbohydrate

**Some fitness experts say that carbohydrates should be eaten preferably earlier in the day to encourage fat loss and maintain consistent energy levels. Personally I have them in each meal if I am being active, as I really notice the difference in my performance if I skip them (plus I get hungry again quickly), but it’s all about finding what works for you.

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