GRAIN FREE VEGAN ALMOND COOKIES

Everyone loves a cookie (or two).

That morning coffee indulgence, or 3pm (or even midnight) snack.

These cookies are packed full of almonds. And with the added Tahini which is also rich in healthy fats, amino acids as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Tahini is packed full of all the goodness as well as being high in calcium.

Tahini can also help to balance hormones. Hormones plays an important role in managing our weight, sleep, hunger cues, libido, mood and our sanity! When our hormones are off balance from poor lifestyle habits and food choices we feel it pretty quickly. 

If balancing hormones is your #1 priority this is the most delicious place to start, full of good fats, protein and nutrients your hormones (and taste buds) are going to love you for this!

Here is my recipe for the simplest & easiest minimum effort  

5 I N G R E D I E N T Grain Free Vegan Almond cookies with Tahini.

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Moist and Decadent Vegan Chocolate Cake

This cake is the moistest most decadent chocolate cake you will ever eat. There is nothing healthy about this cake – I think if you want to have chocolate cake then you should have chocolate cake!

I am replacing our family chocolate cake recipe with this one – it will be at every birthday party from now on. Not because it is vegan (we have one vegan in our house) but because it was minimal effort for an amazing cake! Noone even knew it was vegan (except my daughter).

The kids thought it was the best chocolate cake ever and devoured it. We were all eying off the last slice.

If you wanted to be fancy and show off or needed a dinner party dessert you could always decorate with raspberries and toasted coconut.

Ingredients

375g dark (70% or darker) chocolate, chopped

2 x 400ml cans coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups self-raising flour (or can replace half of this quantity with almond meal)

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons cocoa

Method

Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm-deep, 20cm round cake pan. Line base and side with baking paper.

Place 150g of the chocolate, 2½ cups of the coconut milk and the vanilla in a microwavesafe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100%), stirring every 30 seconds, for 1 minute 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth.

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and cocoa into a large bowl. Make a well. Add chocolate mixture. Whisk to combine. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Place remaining chocolate and coconut milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH stirring every 30 seconds, for 1 minute 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth. Stand for 2 hours to thicken slightly.

Split cake in half horizontally. Spread 1/2 the ganache over bottom half of cake. Top with remaining half. Spread remaining ganache over top of cake.

Healthy Thai Green Curry

I NEVER want my clients eating a boring, monotonous diet. Eating the same mundane food day in and day out is only going to intensify those cravings and lead you back to square one.

Life is about flavour. It’s about enjoying your meals.

This Thai Green Curry recipe is a great way to spice up your weekday meals while still eating healthy.

Green curry paste is usually spicy. You can substitute for yellow paste which is a bit more mild.

If you’re feeding kids that don’t like chilli, you can always sprinkle the chilli on your own dish when you serve.

Here’s what you need:

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The BEST Banana Bread

Because who doesn’t love a piece of plant based moist choc chip banana bread smothered in peanut butter?

This banana bread tweaked from my original banana bread recipe as I need to cater for a vegan.

And, not too high in sugar so in my opinion you can have your cake and eat it too!

And, while I don’t necessarily agree with some food alternatives, this one seems to tick the boxes.

I like to serve this with a dollop of dark roasted crunchy peanut butter.

Recipe is super easy

2 large ripe bananas

¼ cup maple syrup

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup coconut milk

½ tsp vanilla

Mash bananas and mix all wet ingredients in (except the ACV)

Then

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp ACV (apple cider vinegar)

Combine baking powder, baking soda and ACV and ex[pect a little bit of magic (fizzing), then mix into the wet ingredients.

½ cup vegan choc chips

1 cup SR flower

1 cup buckwheat flour

Stir through the choc chips and flours.

Bake in a lined loaf tin for about an hour at 160c

Plant Based Diet

What does “plant-based diet” mean? Is it the same thing as being vegetarian or vegan?

What Does Following a Plant-Based Diet Mean Exactly?

Some people use the term ‘plant-based diet’ as a synonym for the vegan diet. Others may use the term in a broader way that includes all vegetarian diets, and I’ve also seen people use ‘plant-based’ to mean diets which are composed mostly, but not entirely, of plant foods.

The main idea is to make plant-based foods the central part of your meals.

Think vegetables as the main part of your meal, with a little grains or complex carbs and some protein (plant or animal depending on how strict you decide to be).

So, rather than thinking ‘We’re having steak and 3 veg for dinner’ think we’re having veggies and some steak on the side.

A plant-based diet emphasizes foods like fruits, vegetables, and beans, and limits foods like meats, dairy, and eggs. From there, more restrictions could be put in place depending on how strict you want to be. It may completely eliminate foods from animals or just limit intake depending on the individual’s interpretation.

That means meat and seafood don’t necessarily need to be off-limits — you might just decide to cut down on how frequently you eat those items.

In my Plant Based cooking workshops for both adults and kids I use only plant based ingredients to cater for vegans.

https://eatinginmind.com.au/plant-based-cooking-workshop-for-kids/

https://eatinginmind.com.au/plant-based-cooking-workshop-for-adults/

Current Research

Most people who adopt this way of eating do it for the potential health benefits. There have been many cardiac benefits linked to Plant Based diets, like reduced cholesterol. Some studies suggest that eating a plant-based diet may improve fertility, and it also may reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

One study linked diets rich in healthy plant foods (such as nuts, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and oils) with a significantly lower risk of heart disease.

Another study found it can also help prevent and treat type 2 diabetes, and it cites research that suggests this diet may help reduce the risk of other chronic illnesses, including cancer.

What to Eat and Drink

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Lentils

What to Limit (or Avoid Entirely, Depending on How Strict You Decide to Be)

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Meat and poultry (like chicken, beef, and pork)
  • Processed animal meats, such as sausages and hot dogs
  • All animal products (including eggs, dairy, and meat if you’re following a vegan diet)

Scientifically proven benefits of a Plant Based Diet

A diet that promotes whole foods and plant-based ingredients can reduce the likelihood that you’ll need medication, lower your risk of obesity and high blood pressure, and maybe even help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

A plant-based diet can also help you manage your weight and may lead to weight loss if you follow it in a healthy way. Most people also start to feel like they have more energy.

To set yourself up for success your grocery list should mainly list fresh vegetables and fruit, beans, and plant-based proteins to make sure you have plenty of options to reach for when you get hungry.

Are there any potential disadvantages of a Plant Based Diet?

Simply sticking with plant-based foods doesn’t set you up for good health.

Particular attention will need to be paid to the quality of the foods you’re consuming, because there are plenty of unhealthy foods that qualify as plant-based, such as potato chips and french fries. In fact, a visit to the vegan markets can prove this theory as there were plenty of battered and deep fried options!

Choosing unhealthy plant-based foods can increase your risk of weight gain and health conditions such as heart disease.

Also, if you decide to take the plant based diet to the next level and go vegan (completely off all animal products) you will need to keep an eye on your B12 and choline levels. Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal sources, and the two best sources of choline are egg yolks and liver.  

So, instead of a diet centred on meat and dairy, the starring roles are played by vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. It’s an approach to eating and lifestyle that has been shown to have significant health benefits, including weight loss and disease prevention.

How can Food and Nutrition Coaching help you?

Improving your health and changing your health behaviours requires a lot of work and focus.

Research suggests that up to 90 percent of chronic disease is caused by diet and lifestyle factors.

Food and Nutrition coaching along with other allied health professionals that are well trained in these areas can play a significant role—alongside licensed clinicians—in reducing the burden of chronic disease.

Reversing chronic health issues, weight loss, energy, training and performance, whatever your motivation for wanting change the smallest changes over a period of time can be the most lasting ones.

Sometimes learning new habits may be self directed. Sometimes new habits can be formed by joining a community or group of people starting a new program and supporting one another.

Sometimes, finding a coach that you can work with could be the answer. A coach that focuses on you and your achievable goals and helps you unblock any issues you may be having and add value to your health journey.

How can you become more efficient with these changes?

By building new habits.

Create daily goals, make small changes.

The small goals that lead to a successful reversal of unwise habits can have a big and lasting effect on your health.

Changing our behaviour may be the single-most important way you can prevent and reverse chronic disease.

A coach can support you, hold you accountable and at times challenge you – something that can be difficult to do on your own.

Food and Nutrition coaching is designed to support people in changing their behaviour.

Building habits not only helps us cut down on the time it takes to perform behaviours, but it makes those behaviours stick.

Coaching doesn’t follow the typical “expert” model that’s so common in healthcare.

Instead, as a coach I will partner with you to understand your current condition, flesh out your goals, create doable objectives, and hold you accountable.

Small goals will help you achieve seemingly small behavioural changes that add up to big benefits for your health.

Raw Blueberry Coco Ripple Bars

I often get asked how much time I spend in the kitchen like there isn’t any place worse in the world …… and I never know what to say.

If I say A LOT will I be judged?

If I say NOT a lot, will I be judged?

Our kitchen is the heart of our home.

Time spent together in the kitchen is quality bonding time. And, the girls like to sit at the bench and chat while reading or doing homework.

The time that I’m alone in the kitchen is my creative time. I have wins, I have failures but most of all I have FUN!

I’m always thinking about how I can make a meal more nourishing, or how can I adapt this for my GAPS child, my vegan child. And in the kitchen is where all of this magic happens.

Teaching the kids to create food, helping them learn to adapt recipes to suit them, learning to use alternative ingredients if we don’t have everything in the fridge or pantry….

Truth is that many of us have forgotten how to cook, and Id love to see a generation of kids growing up with the basics and the ability to throw together a healthy balanced nutritious meal no matter how time poor they are.

These bars came about when the kids asked what we could make for dessert on Saturday night. I didn’t feel like going out to buy ingredients so we made these with what we had in the pantry and the freezer and they were a HIT!

I had all of the ingredients in the pantry and frozen organic blueberries in the freezer.

Once the blueberries were defrosted, the dessert took 15 mins to put together NO WAY right?

Here’s the recipe.

If you do decide to give it a go would love to know how you went with it. Give us a shout out or a tag and share the love.

The most delicious last minute pantry item dessert!

Raw Blueberry Coco Ripple Bars

Ingredients

Base

2 cups medjool dates

1 cup almond meal

1 cup oats

Filling

1 cup coconut oil

2 cups dessicated coconut

4 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 tsp Vanilla essence

½ cup Blueberries (frozen and thawed to room temperature)

Topping

100gm 85% dark chocolate

Method

  1. Leave blueberries out to defrost until at room temperature. Once defrosted and at room temperature process and set aside.
  2. Process all of the base ingredients and press into a lined tin (place tin into freezer while you do the next step)
  3. Gently melt coconut oil in a bowl. Don’t get the oil hot, it should be luke warm or cooler (unless already in liquid form), and mix through the rest of the filling ingredients.  Stir the blueberries through last.
  4. Pour over the base and put back in the freezer while you do step 5.
  5. Melt chocolate. Drizzle over the blueberry layer with a spoon.
  6. Place in the freezer for a couple of minutes. The chocolate should set quite quickly.
  7. Slice it up and watch it disappear like magic!

Sugar and Inflammation

Why your child does NOT need lollies after Saturday sport

So here’s a newsflash that might put a few people off kilter….. your kids do NOT need lollies after sport on Saturday.

Unless they are elite athletes who have just exerted themselves to the equivalent of running a marathon and are planning on doing the same again very soon they do not need to replace their glycogen stores with sugar, artificial colours and additives.

And, when did lollies after sport become a thing anyway?

I have four kids, and after every game they get offered a lolly. 

Lollies at sport has crept into our lives so quietly we don’t even remember when it happened, and our kids don’t remember a time when it wasn’t a thing.

My daughter used to play netball and it was a rostered duty. There was scoring duty, water duty, fruit duty and LOLLY DUTY. Now it’s just a ritual – someone always has a bag of lollies and is happy to share the love.

I’m calling on all coaches, managers, parents to make a stand – lets BAN the lollies at  sport.

What’s wrong with a couple of lollies with the team after the game?

Hmmmm. Well my kids went back to school this week after a couple of weeks off and on the first day back my daughter walked out of class holding a cupcake and very proudly claiming that she already had one at lunch time. A large iced cupcake decorated with lollies. While I don’t have a problem with kids having treats for celebrations occasionally, this is a great example of how our kids are probably getting too many treats.

What about the food colourings?

Think artificial dyes are a harmless ingredient? Consider this…

  • Food companies add more than 6 million kilos of artificial food colourings to foods each year (Over five times the amount added to the food supply when our parents were children)
  • Artificial food dyes have been linked to behavioural problems, various types of cancers and other problems.
  • The European Union requires foods with food dyes to come with a warning label and has banned many of the dyes still used in the US
  • Many people come in contact with food dyes without even realizing it in toothpastes, crackers, pickles, yogurt, potato chips, pastas and other foods that would not be obvious sources of dyes

What kids should be eating after playing sport

Real food.

Give them an apple, a banana, watermelon and hydrate them. Kids need to drink more water. If you think they are hungry, pack a wholegrain/wholemeal sandwich that is nourishing. A handful of nuts or a couple of medjool dates.

Hydration is more important than the lollies…..

Sugar and additives and inflammation

When we eat too much glucose-containing sugar, the excess glucose our body can’t process quickly enough can increase levels of pro-inflammatory messengers called cytokines. And that’s not all. Sugar also suppresses the effectiveness of our white blood cells’ germ-killing ability, weakening our immune system and making us more susceptible to infectious diseases.

Several animal studies have shown that a diet high in added sugar leads to obesity, insulin resistance, increased gut permeability and low-grade inflammation. Human studies confirm the link between added sugar and higher inflammatory markers.

A study of 29 healthy people found that consuming only 40 grams of added sugar from just one 375-ml can of soft drink per day led to an increase in inflammatory markers, insulin resistance and LDL cholesterol. These people tended to gain more weight, too.

Another study in overweight and obese people found that consuming one can of regular soft drink daily for six months led to increased levels of uric acid, a trigger for inflammation and insulin resistance.

Drinking sugary drinks can spike inflammation levels. Moreover, this effect can last for a considerable amount of time.

Consuming a 50-gram dose of fructose causes a spike in inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) just 30 minutes later. Furthermore, CRP remains high for over two hours.

What is a Healthy Diet?

We are bombarded with information on what to eat on a daily basis.

Misinformation from companies trying to flog you something, contradictory findings from research studies, media reports and the latest fad, can leave us feeling confused.

One thing is for surewe need calories to sustain life and our bodily functions. The underlying issue is that foods that supply these calories can influence the risk of developing chronic conditions, which range from heart disease and cancer to osteoporosis, inflammation, auto-immune diseases and age-related illness.

We are still learning a lot about the role of specific nutrients in decreasing the risk of chronic disease, however a large body of evidence supports healthy dietary patterns that emphasize whole-grain foods, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, and that limit refined starches, red meat, full-fat dairy products, and foods and beverages high in added sugars.

Such diets have been associated with decreased risk of a variety of chronic diseases.

Food and Nutrition is just one approach to preventing illness. Limiting caloric intake to maintain a healthy weight and exercising regularly are other essential strategies.

Regular movement and exercise is beneficial to both your physical and mental health. Having a supportive group or community of like minded people can encourage you and keep you accountable to showing up!

Check out how functional movement and group classes can benefit you http://www.crossfitfeelgood.com.au/ (they offer a 1 week free trial)

Data from the Nurses’ Health Study (referenced) show that women who followed a healthy lifestyle pattern that includes eating wholefoods, exercising regularly, reducing calorie intake and not smoking were 80% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease over a 14-year period compared to all other women in the study.

A companion study, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (referenced) showed that similar healthy choices were beneficial in men, even among those who were taking medications to lower blood pressure or cholesterol.

Focus on eating wholefoods

Wholefoods are foods that are either unprocessed or processed as little as possible, before being consumed. Examples of whole foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables.

 “Eat more fruits and vegetables” is timeless advice that has the backing of a large body of evidence.

Vegetables and fruits provide fibre, slowly digested carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and numerous phytonutrients that have been associated with protection against cardiovascular disease and maintenance of bowel function.

Vegetables should be consumed in abundance, which means a minimum of five servings a day—and more is better.

Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, Rimm EB, Willett WC. Primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. N Engl J Med. 2000;343(1):16–22.

Chiuve SE, McCullough ML, Sacks FM, Rimm EB. Healthy lifestyle factors in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease among men: benefits among users and nonusers of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medications. Circulation. 2006;114(2):160–7. ls