December 17, 2012

My Christmas Waldorf Salad

With a big jar of pecan nuts in my pantry in preparation for Christmas baking and left-over roast chicken sitting in the fridge, my mind started concocting an idea for a delicious salad. With some crisp celery and green grapes as possible accompaniments, I started to think of the classic Waldorf salad. The first Waldorf Salad was created in New York City in 1893, by Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel of the Waldorf Astoria. The original recipe consisted only of diced red-skinned apples, celery and mayonnaise; chopped walnuts were added later to create the classic salad dish.

My Waldorf salad has a Christmas touch, with chopped pecans, sliced grapes, shredded roast chicken and amazing vegan soy mayonnaise. It's the perfect lunch recipe to make for friends at this time of the year (or any for that fact!).

December 12, 2012

Gluten-free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownies

My favourite combination of salty and sweet, I was in desperate need of this chocolate fix this week. Quick and easy to make, these brownies are a hit. The dark chocolate drops create an intense richness to the cake and the peanut butter swirl topping is the perfect complement. I. LOVE. THESE! They also a fantastic individually wrapped up in the freezer for instant gratification whenever needed.

Gluten-free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

  • Bobs Red Mil Natural Food Brownie Mix
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 packet of dark chocolate buttons (whatever brand you prefer - or chop up some sugar-free dark chocolate)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of organic peanut butter, smooth
  • 2 teaspoons of ground salt
  • 1 disposable foil baking tin or brownie tin lined with baking paper
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and prepare your baking dish with baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, empty the brownie mix and add the oil, chocolate, egg, almond milk and vanilla extract. Mix together until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into your tin and flatten with a spoon.
  4. Drizzle the peanut butter over the top and mix in softly with a spoon to create a swirl effect.
  5. Top with the salt. 
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes and take out to cool completely before slicing into squares.

December 07, 2012

Get skinny this weekend with inspiration from the Victoria's Secret girls

With the silly season in full force, many of us will be faced with the temptation of Christmas goodies, party drinks, late nights and skipping work outs. If you have indulged a little during the holidays, it helps to have a few detox days to regenerate your body and stay on top of your calorie intake.

The Victoria's Secret fashion parade has hit the blogosphere lately, particularly in regards to the models' diet and fitness routines. While they are admittedly taking things to an extreme level, taking a leaf from their model manual can help you stay on track during the festive time.

Read on for a few solid tips to take from the famous supermodels...

December 02, 2012

Sugar-free Gluten-free Gingerbread Cookies


These cookies are the perfect sweet treat this Christmas, especially if you want to stick to a sugar and gluten free diet over the holiday season. I made mine gingerbread men shaped and you can choose any cut-out you desire, or roll into balls to make traditional cookies. I also like to make these biscuits as a Christmas gift for friends and family; just secure in an airtight container and wrap with ribbon.

Sugar-free Gluten-free Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free pastry mix (find this in your gluten-free baking section)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of stevia sweetener crystals
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of all spice
  • 2 tablespoons of melted low-fat margarine
  • 3 tablespoons of almond milk (you may need to add more if your mixture is too dry)
Method:
  1. Sift the baking powder and pastry mix, then add in the almond meal, sweetener and spices.
  2. Add the margarine and almond milk, and slowly mix together until the ingredients form a soft dough. 
  3. Knead this mixture together to make a ball; if the mixture is not holding together add a small dash of almond milk until you get the desired results.
  4. When you have kneaded the dough into a ball, place on a flat counter, covered in a sheet of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into flat piece about 2 cm thick. You may need to sprinkle some almond meal on the dough before rolling if it seems a little sticky.
  5. Cut out your desired shapes and place on a large baking tray, covered with baking paper.
  6. Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees fan forced) for 15 minutes, or until golden.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

November 22, 2012

Chocolate-covered Gluten-free Peanut Oat Cookies


When I was younger, I loved those crunchy biscuits with a thick chocolate bottom that was both a cookie and a chocolate treat in one. Craving the sweet, I decided to make up my own healthy version of the old-fashioned chocolate biscuit.

November 19, 2012

Holly Madison's Healthy Green Smoothie

Staying healthy during your pregnancy is paramount and 6-months along Holly Madison is making sure she soaks up all the vitamins she needs by starting her day with a delicious green smoothie. Smoothies are a great breakfast as they are easily digested, hydrating and pack more vitamins out of your vegies and fruits than a juice because the fibre is retained. You can get creative and mix up a variety of combinations but to get you in the mood, here is Holly's favourite mix.

Holly Madison's Green Smoothie

Ingredients:
-2 cups water
-2 large handfuls of spinach
-1 banana
-2 cups strawberries

Directions:
-Blend spinach and water well
-Add banana and strawberries (be sure to cut the leaves off of the strawberries)

Feel free to add even more strawberries for a sweeter taste! This makes 2 large smoothies.
Holly and her baby bump

November 01, 2012

Vegan Carrot Cakes with Coconut Icing


These little cakes are divine; so moist and sweet without breaking any vegan rules! Silken tofu has become my new favourite ingredient to use in my baking. It has such a mild taste, it adds moistness to cakes without affecting flavour and can also make a great icing (as you will later find out).

Vegan Carrot Cakes with Coconut Icing

Ingredients:
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 2 finely grated carrots 
  • 1 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of flaxseed oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of stevia sweetener powder
  • 1 1/4 cups self-raising gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 cup of silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup of sultanas 
Icing:
  • 1/2 cup of stevia powdered icing sugar (or real icing sugar)
  • 1/2 cup of silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup of shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons of toasted muesli (can be gluten free if required)

Method:
  1. In a large bowl, sift the cinnamon, baking powder, and flour, and stir to combine.
  2. In a large jug or bowl, whisk together the agave syrup, oil, carrots, banana, tofu and vanilla.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients, adding the sultanas. 
  4. Gently mix until combined.
  5. Fill 12 greased muffin tins with the mixture and bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes, until cooked through. The muffins will be very moist but should be firm to touch.
  6. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool further.
  7. To make the icing, blend together the sugar, tofu, maple syrup until blended (or use a whisk until all lumps are removed). Stir through the coconut until the mixture thickens. Once cakes are cooled, top with a dollop of the coconut icing and sprinkle with a little muesli to finish. 

October 23, 2012

Skinny Tofu Berry Cheesecake with vegan, paleo and sugar-free options

With so many fantastic soy and coconut milk products on the shelves to replace traditional dairy options, vegan and lactose-free cheesecakes are as easy to make as the old-fashioned varieties. This cake can be made vegan or paleo with a few ingredient replacements, which I will specify in the ingredient list. I have made this recipe really flexible to suit all different needs, tastes and preferences just by a few adjustments. Feel free to ask any questions if it gets too confusing! I also must add, don't be afraid your cheesecake won't set. It will! Don't have nightmares of unclasping your springform pan only to have the filling collapse dramatically from its confines. This has never happened to me... and I am not bragging, I am reassuring. If you are afraid of cheesecake disasters, lightly touch the cake when you remove it from the oven and you will feel it's gentle firmness. Also, setting the cake will come from allowing it to cool correctly and giving it plenty of time to chill in the fridge before serving. Don't be tempted to serve straight from the oven.

The beautiful pink blush of the cake makes it gorgeous looking and spectacular to serve at a dinner party. Don't tell anyone about the tofu ingredient or sugar absence until they have eaten their piece all up! I promise you they will be greatly impressed by your culinary secrets...

Skinny Tofu Berry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Supplies:
  • 1 medium springform pan, line the bottom with foil and clasp the outside around the foil with enough the wrap around the sides of the tin. 
  • 1 medium or large roasting tin. 
Crust:
  • 1 pack of fresh dates (fresh works best but dried dates will work too, you will just need to soften them for 30 minutes in hot water first)
  • 250 grams of almond meal
  • 1/4 cup of cashew nut butter
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil
Filling:
  • 1 packet of silken tofu (use firm tofu if omitting the eggs)
  • 1 large container of coconut milk yoghurt in berry flavour - if berry isn't available, buy plain and add 2 tablespoons of no-sugar berry jam
  • 200 gram packet of soy cream cheese or Philadelphia low-fat cream cheese if dairy-free is not required
  • 1/4 cup of stevia sweetener crystals OR 1/2 cup of honey or agave syrup if preferred
  • 1 punnet of blueberries or 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 8 strawberries, diced
  • 2 organic eggs (leave these out if you are vegan or want an egg-free cake and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil)
  • 2 limes, zested and the juice of one
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
*Note: To make this cake Paleo-friendly, create a filling with:
  • 1 large container of coconut milk yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup of cashew butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 punnet of blueberries or 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 8 strawberries, diced
  • 2 limes, zested and the juice of half one lime
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Method:
  1. To make the crust, soak fresh dates in a little boiling water for 10 minutes or until very soft. Spoon out the excess water and using an electric mixer, cream on high speed until puréed. Continue mixing and add in the almond meal, cashew butter, honey and flaxseed oil until the ingredients form a thick paste.
  2. Preheat the oven to a hot 200 degrees and spray the cake tin with cooking oil spray.
  3. Press the date paste onto the bottom of the cake tin and spread evenly to create a base. Use the remaining paste to create a pie crust around the sides, which should cover three-quarters up the side of the tin.
  4. Bake the crust blind in the hot oven for 8 minutes, until toasted and crusty.
  5. Take the tin out of the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile clean the electric mixer to use again to make the filling.
  6. To make the filling, cream together the tofu, coconut yoghurt, cream cheese, lime juice and zest, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
  7. Beat in the stevia sweetener, honey or agave (depending on your preference) until sugars are dissolved.
  8. Stir in the berries.
  9. Pour the mixture into the pie crust; I like to fill only to the top of the crust but it won't matter if the mixture spills over.
  10. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and find a roasting tin that will fit the cake tin inside. Place the cake tin in the roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to reach half-way up the cake tin side.
  11. Bake in the slow-heat oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When the cooking time is done, leave the cake to cool inside the oven with a wooden spoon stuck in the oven door to leave it ajar.
  12. After 1 - 2 hours, take out the cake and leave to come to room temperature in a cool place in the kitchen. 
  13. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
  14. To serve, unclasp the springform tin but leave the cake sitting on it's metal base, just remove the visible foil. Slice when still cold but leave for 30 minutes to warm up slightly before serving (I think it tastes better this way). 
  15. To present the cake, you can add extra blueberries, strawberries, fresh flowers and gourmet chocolates/lollies. I used gorgeous heart-shaped freckles and chopped Skinny Cow chocolate wafer bar.
Makes 10 - 12 servings.

October 20, 2012

Skinny Vegan Chocolate Cake (sugar/gluten free)


Vegan baking means using no eggs or butter, which are usually staples to cake making. I find baking without these two ingredients surprisingly easy but I was up for a challenge; creating a vegan chocolate cake that was sugar free and gluten free, yet still delicious tasting. Adapting a traditional chocolate cake recipe from the new Frankie 50th edition magazine, I managed to create a satisfying chocolate cake replacement for vegans, gluten-free followers and sugar avoiders! Using rich cocoa, shredded coconut, flaxseed oil and stevia, the cake is moist and decadent. It was so scrumptious that the whole family enjoyed it, tested by the young and old alike who all deemed this cake a success. Of course, if you are vegan but don't require gluten or sugar free recipes, just use normal sugar and flours for the recipe.


Skinny Vegan Chocolate Cake (sugar/gluten free)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of plain gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup of self-raising gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon of of gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of gluten-free baking soda
  • 1 cup of dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons of stevia baking sugar or 8 packets of stevia sweetener (I use Natvia)
  • 2 cups of strong coffee, made with almond milk (I used coffee tea bags)
  • 1/2 cup of flaxseed oil (Could also use coconut/rice bran/vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
Icing:
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa, sifted
  • 6 packets of stevia sweetener
  • 3 tablespoon of hot water

Method:
  1. In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder and soda, cocoa and spices and stir to combine. Add the sweetener and mix to incorporate ingredients. 
  2. In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the cooled coffee, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together vigorously to allow the vinegar and baking soda to react. Add in the coconut and mix.
  4. Pour into a greased cake tin or silicone cake tin. 
  5. Bake for 45 minutes in a moderate oven or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack to cool further.
  7. To make the icing, combine the cocoa, stevia and hot water and mix to create a thick sauce. If the icing is too much like a paste, add some more hot water. Drizzle the slightly cooled chocolate icing over the cake and allow to set before slicing.
  8. Will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Makes 12 pieces. 


October 16, 2012

Oat Tahini Balls

If you need something sweet to tide you over between meals but don't want to blow your calorie budget, these oat snacks are the perfect solution. These bite-sized sugar-free and high in protein snacks are quick and easy to make. They will keep for a week in an airtight container in the fridge but I think they taste nicest at room temperature; just let them defrost a bit before eating.

October 11, 2012

Should you use coconut oil in your cooking and baking?


I keep seeing coconut oil popping up in clean eating recipes, used as a substitute for butter or regular oils. I first heard about coconut oil through reading Miranda Kerr's eating regime that includes regular doses of the oil; Miranda is a devoted fan of coconut oil valuing it's health benefits for the body inside and out. Her love for this type of oil was criticized by health experts who have warned of the high saturated fat content in coconuts. But looking at Miranda's incredible body and glowing skin, I wondered who was right on this issue?

Firstly, coconut oil is about 90 percent saturated fat! That’s a much higher percentage than butter (about 64 percent saturated fat), beef fat (40 percent) or even lard (also 40 percent). Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of heart disease. However, unlike other saturated fats, coconut oil doesn't have a negative effect on cholesterol levels and actually gives “good” HDL cholesterol a boost.

Plant-based oils are more than just fats, of course. Coconut oil, like other plant oils, also contains many antioxidants and other substances that may benefit your health. Coconuts are rich in lauric acid, which has very powerful anti-bacterial / anti-viral properties and is well known to support a healthy immune system and even facilitate brain function.


Here is six easy ways to add the benefits of coconut oil to your daily diet:

1 – Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your favourite breakfast smoothie

2 – Add a tablespoon to buckwheat or quinoa porridge with a drop of stevia

3 – Use as a spread on your favourite gluten free crackers or bread

4 – Use coconut oil for your stir fries & curries – works wonderfully with Asian & Indian flavours

5 – Roast vegetables with coconut oil & sea salt

6 – Mix coconut oil with raw cacao powder and stevia for a delicious, healthy chocolate topping or dipping sauce

October 10, 2012

Sugar-free Flourless Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints


These cookies are high in protein and sugar-free, which means you can indulge in a little treat and still keep on track with your fitness and weight loss goals. Peanut butter is a great snack for dieters because it is filling and high in protein to feed your muscles and help with recovery after gym sessions. The high fat content also helps your body to burn more calories and keep your metabolism firing. You only need a few ingredients to make these cookies and once baked, they will keep in an airtight container for a week.

Sugar-free Flourless Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints

(makes 14 cookies)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup organic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy depending on your favourite)
  • 1/4 cup of Natvia stevia sweetener
  • 2 tablespoons of oat flour (to make pulverise oats in a food processor)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like to use the paste)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of weight-watchers forest fruits jam (or another sugar-free berry jam)


Method:
  1. In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, Natvia, egg, and vanilla extract. I like to use an electric mixer to whip the ingredients into a creamy consistency. Add the flour and briefly mix to combine.
  2. Line a baking sheet with greased-proof paper and preheat the oven to 180 degree (moderately hot). Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop cookie dough balls onto the parchment paper. If you don't have a scoop, use a tablespoon and roll the cookies into a ball. 
  3. Press your finger into each cookie dough ball to make a crevice for the jam (yes, they are meant to be 'thumbprint cookies' but a using your finger just works better!). Put 1/4 teaspoon of jam into the centre of each cookie.
  4. Bake in the oven for 11 minutes. Let the cookies cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Enjoy!

October 07, 2012

Funny girl Jenna Marbles reveals her diet and fitness secrets


Jenna Marbles is a you tube darling, renowned for her funny and candid views of 'a day in the life' of a modern female.

Jenna tells Shape.com about her diet and exercise regime:

I know you guys ask me all the time about my diet/exercise. I explained in a vlog a little while back that I try to keep a vegan diet 6 days a week and have a cheat day in there so I don’t go cray cray so that still hasn’t changed. But my workouts are always all over the place because I like to keep it new and different. I can’t just go into the gym, do my cardio, lift weights, and repeat every day until I die. That’s not fun to me. 

I like to do different stuff and as I said in my diet/exercise video I usually love to do fitness on demand straight from the TV at my house. (I have Comcast, so it’s under OnDemand and then Fitness and there’s like a million billion things in there to keep you busy from your house). But this month I’m doing Bob Harper’s bikini workout from Shape Magazine and let me tell you, this jumpoff will make you break a sweat for sure.

You do all of the moves/reps as listed with no rest in between, then repeat the entire set for a second time 2-3 days a week. 4-5 times a week you get your cardio in, know what I mean? I love the Biggest Loser, so I thought I’d give my 2nd favorite trainer a shot (Jillian still reigns supreme, she’s got some killer DVD’s and workouts OnDemand for those of you that are interested).

Tryin to get my butt to look all tight and shit.

Check out the Shape.com workout from Bob Harper.

October 05, 2012

Body confidence taught from Mother Monster Lady Gaga who hits back at those calling her 'fat'


Ignoring her body bullies, Lady Gaga has held her head high and kept up her usual Gaga ways in wearing risqué fashion choices and looking damn proud while working it. Rumours are rife that Gaga has gained over 10 kilograms in the past six months, flaunting a noticeably curvier figure than her former waif-like self.

Looking thin in her Born This Way video

What is ironic is that Gaga looks like any normal girl walking down the street, she is cute, in shape and seems happy in her relationship. I am confused why this attracts negative attention? What should be negative is women suffering from eating disorders, which Gaga admits to falling victim to since she was 15 years old, including battling bulimia and anorexia.

I saw Gaga in concert a few months ago and I thought she looked positively tiny. She certainly could have gained weight without any problem considering she looked almost too thin. Although to me, if you want to be thin or curvier, I don't see why it is someone else's business to judge unless you are unhealthy or in need of help. Gaga agrees with this philosophy free of judgement and created the Born This Way Foundation to inspire bravery and a body revolution.

Gaga commented her boyfriend, gorgeous Taylor Kinney (pictured left) loves her body curvier.

Gaga wrote on her blog, 'When I eat and am healthy and not so worried about my looks. I'm happy. Happier then I've ever been. I am not going to go on a psycho-spree because of scrutiny. This is who I am. And I am proud at any size.'

The talented and beautiful superstar is obviously happy in love and content with herself, which is a exquisite feeling for any human being.

I love the gorgeous picture of them together below and the one underneath, where they played up a mock wedding for one of her videos.




A dieter's solution to peanut butter addiction

When I came across this product, I firstly couldn't work out what it was! Powdered peanut butter sounds pretty strange but I knew I wanted to know more because like many, I am totally addicted to peanut butter. I have never pinpointed the cause for my addiction; I didn't eat it as a child, I don't particularly like peanuts (yes that really doesn't make any sense) and my mum thinks peanut butter is disgusting (she is British and thinks marmalade is the way to go). Nevertheless I have to ration my peanut butter purchases as I have been known to eat a whole jar in a matter of days....which led me to think, is there an alternative?

My addiction is not a unique one; many fitness junkies and weight watchers like myself find it hard to resist peanut butter. It is filling and nutritious, full of good fats and protein, which makes it a great fitness food. However, it is just so hard to stop at one tablespoon, which packs a punch of over 100 calories. After you've hastily spooned a few mouthfuls straight from the jar, you could easily of consumed over 500 calories, equating to over one hour of hard running on the treadmill. Phew! Peanut butter's high fat and calorie content is why some dieters will not go near the stuff but for those who are peanut butter lovers, what is the solution?

This is what leads us to this new product 'Powdered Peanut Butter'. At first, I could not understand why you would want to or how you would eat this powdered peanut concoction. Then I realised you can technically create your own peanut butter than is virtually fat-free. How the powdered stuff works is that you mix the powder with water to create a peanut paste that is 85% lower in fat and calories than regular peanut butter. To make the powder, manufacturers squeeze the oil from the peanuts to make a powder virtually free from the fat from the nuts. What is also helpful about this powdered form is the removal of the temptation to dunk your spoon into that gooey delicious spread and down 200 calories without realising it. You make the peanut butter substitute as you need it, and can adjust the consistency to your preference.

The most popular brand seems to be PB2, which pops up on a lot of fitness websites. I personally can't wait to get my hands on it and try it for myself. I'd love to hear from you if you are a peanut butter addict like me or have tried this substitute version. I might finally be able to kick my addiction, or really just replace it....

October 03, 2012

Peanut Butter Protein Cookies


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of stevia powder sweetener
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jar of natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of plain flour
Method:
  1. Using an electric mixer, whisk together the peanut butter and sweetener. Add the two eggs and cream until combined and fluffy.
  2. Add in the vanilla and ginger.
  3. On low speed, add the oats, flour and protein powder until just combined.
  4. Scoop out tablespoons of mixture onto a a large baking tray covered in greased-proof paper.
  5. Bake in a hot oven for 25 minutes, until cooked through and crisp.
  6. Let cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. 

September 27, 2012

Sinless Strawberry Slice

I think I might like this slice because it is just so darn pretty. I also am quite partial to strawberry-flavoured anything - be it ice cream, lip gloss, cocktails, bodywash.... it might have something to do with how much I love pink and anything sweet. Whatever the reasons for my strawberry obsession, I do think this slice is pretty special. I modified the recipe from the FODMAP cookbook, which helps those with food intolerances whip up some great dishes that won't cause any tummy upsets or allergic reactions. Phew. This dessert looks spectacular and tastes delicious! It's perfect to bring to a morning or afternoon tea with the ladies, and you can whisper, "it's low-fat!", just in case anyone was wondering....

Sinless Strawberry Slice

Makes 20 small slices

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 80 grams of ultra light pro-active margarine spread
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 200 grams of plain gluten-free biscuits made into fine crumbs either with a food processor or crushed in a sealed plastic bag - I use a rolling pin to whack the biscuits into crumbed submission...
Filling:
  • 1 packet of ultra light cream cheese
  • 1 small tub of low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup of stevia sweetener (Natvia is the one I use)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of low-fat milk
  • 100 grams of strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces
Topping:
  • 1 packet of sugar-free strawberry jelly - made using half the water required
Method:
  1. Line a 22 cm baking dish with baking paper.
  2. Microwave the margarine in a medium bowl until melted and add the biscuit crumbs. Add the beaten egg and mix everything together.
  3. Press this biscuit mixture into the base of the baking dish and refrigerate.
  4. Using an electric mixer, mix together the sweetener, vanilla, cream cheese, milk and cottage cheese and mix together. Mix in the strawberries on a low speed until combined.
  5. Pour this cheese mixture over the biscuit base and spread out until flattened. Refrigerate for 2 hours until firm. 
  6. Make the jelly according to the packet directions but use half the water required. When the crystals are dissolved and the mixture is completely cool, carefully pour over the cheese slice. Place back in the fridge to cool for 6 hours or overnight.
  7. Cut carefully into slices by dipping the knife into boiling water after each cut. 
  8. Store in the fridge (will last 2 days).




September 26, 2012

Delicious guilt-free chocolate mini muffins


I have been craving chocolate cake all week but with an island holiday looming in a few weeks and the thought of flaunting my bikini body, I have resisted the urge! Then I thought, why not create my own chocolate treat that is guilt-free yet completely delicious and satisfying?! Throwing a few of my favourite ingredients together, I came up with these gorgeous mini muffins, made with peanut butter, yoghurt and blueberries. I only used one tablespoon of gluten-free flour, using almond meal and LSA (a blend of linseed, seeds and almonds) as the bulk of the muffin. My usual favourite Natvia (stevia sugar substitute) sweetened up the cocoa I added to create the chocolate taste. Using lots of blueberries is a good trick too as it cuts down on the calories of each muffin and also adds moisture and sweetness.

Gluten-free Chocolate Mini Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup of almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons of LSA
  • 1/4 cup of organic natural crunchy peanut butter (I like the crunch texture in the muffins)
  • 1 organic egg
  • 1 small tub of diet vanilla yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons of Natvia
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa 
  • 3/4 cup of frozen blueberries
Method:
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the egg, peanut butter, yoghurt and blueberries to the dry ingredients and combine until smooth.
  3. Grease a 12-hole mini muffin tray with spray oil and preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  4. Fill each muffin hole with a generous tablespoon of the mixture.
  5. Bake in your oven for 25 minutes, until cooked through.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool further. They might get a little stuck; I loosed each with a knife around the sides before turning each out to cool.
  7. Store in an airtight container. I immediately freeze mine by wrapping each in clingfilm and placing in a container in the freezer to take out when needed :) 

September 24, 2012

Why breakfast can kickstart your metabolism


Eating breakfast, not skipping breakfast, will actually increase your chances of reaching your weight loss goals. A healthy and filling breakfast will satisfy you right to lunch, keeping your blood sugars stable and your energy levels firing.  If you’re not adding fuel to your system, your body will burn calories more slowly because you don’t have enough stored energy. Eating a well balanced diet will increase your metabolism allowing you to burn calories more efficiently throughout the day.  
Just eating breakfast is not enough.  You have to ensure you are giving your body what it needs.  Eat foods with a high nutritional value that will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to function effectively. 


Foods to Eat
Make healthy choices with your breakfast and give yourself enough time to eat.  If you are in a hurry in the morning, prepare your breakfast the night before or eat something that is portable. Soak some protein-fortified oats or quinoa overnight in a container with berries, almonds and low-fat greek yoghurt. You can take this straight to work with you or have 20 minutes to yourself to relax at home before your hectic day starts.
Whether it’s for weight loss or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating breakfast will help start your day off right and keep you going.  Make sure you make the right choices. I like Brookfarm's gluten-free porrij mix, with no added sugar and a variety of protein-enriched grains :) delish! I top with sugar-free vanilla yoghurt, blueberries and almonds. 

This is my favourite breakfast choice!

September 11, 2012

Skinny Fig and Hazelnut Puddings (gluten-free)

I adore sticky date pudding, the gorgeous golden cake adorned with rich caramel sauce is my idea of heaven. Despite the seemingly healthy sound of 'date' pudding, these little desserts are seriously sugar laden. To transform these puddings into healthier treats, I have used a few creative tricks that cut down on the calories without sacrificing the dessert's delicious flavours.

Sticky Fig and Hazelnut Puddings (gluten-free)

Makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams of hazelnut meal (to make, process 50 grams of roasted skinned hazelnuts)
  • 150ml of fresh orange juice or organic orange juice with no sugar added
  • 1/2 cup of chopped figs, plus 6 dried figs cut horizontally
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons of grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 60 grams of low-fat margarine
  • 1/3 cup of Natvia sweetener
  • 1 organic egg, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • boiling water, to steam
  • coconut milk yoghurt or ice cream to serve
Method:
  1. Grease six 250ml (1 cup) ramekins or ovenproof tea cups and place a circle of baking paper on the bottom of each cup.
  2. Put orange juice into a small saucepan and bring to the boil on medium heat. Add the chopped figs (1/2 cup), ginger, cinnamon, and orange zest and cook for one minute. Remove from the heat and add the baking soda, allowing the mixture to froth up, and set aside to cool for ten minutes.
  3. Combine the margarine and Natvia in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well combined (don't be alarmed if the mixture curdles). 
  4. Fold in the hazelnut meal, and add the flour in slow increments, slowly incorporating until all flour has been added. 
  5. Pour in the orange juice mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Divide the maple syrup into the base of the ramekins and top with remaining orange zest. 
  7. Arrange two of the fig halves in the base of each ramekin.
  8. Spoon the pudding mixture into each cup until three-quarters full, then cover with a square sheet of foil, sealing securely.
  9. Arrange the cups in a deep roasting tin and full the tin with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. 
  10. Bake for 35 minutes in a moderate oven. 
  11. Take the cups out of the water and place on a cooling tray for 5 minutes.
  12. Invert each pudding onto a serving plate and accompany with coconut milk yoghurt or ice-cream.

Miley Cyrus brags on the benefits of gluten-free eating but does it really equal weight loss?

So everyone has noticed Miley's recent weight loss, which I must say has now been superseded by her rather dramatic hair transformation. I don't like her new hair so I am not going to post a pic of it! But google it if you haven't seen it already. Miley is attributing her new weight loss to eliminating gluten from her diet, something which I have also done in my own eating plan. Whether you are allergic to gluten or not, some people can be gluten sensitive and find their digestive systems work more efficiently without eating any gluten.

In terms of eliminating gluten from your diet for direct health benefits, I don't think it can be measured in black and white. Gluten is only bad for people who are either intolerant or sensitive to the substance, which is found mostly in products with wheat. If your body doesn't have any difficulty processing gluten, you do not need to cut it from your diet. What I think attributes to weight loss in those who cut gluten is by following the gluten-free diet you tend to avoid heavy carb foods like pizza, white bread, pastries and sugary cereals.

Gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean healthy; gluten-free foods can be high in GI and low in dietary fibre meaning you can end up eating more calories than you need. If you can tolerate a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, go right ahead! Wholemeal breads that free from preservatives are great for you, keep you satisfied and prevent bowel cancer.

For me, the gluten-free diet works wonders for my stomach health and comfort. I have lost weight following the program but I mostly eat a clean diet of fruit and vegetables with protein. I don't eat a lot of 'gluten-free' products except for a little gluten-free bread and rice crackers. Gluten-free muffins, cookies and cakes can be just as fattening as the regular versions. It certainly does not fast-track you to skinny.





September 10, 2012

Ellie Gonsalves' Clean Eating Plan

Eating clean has become the newest phenomena in healthy eating and has many celebrity advocates. I love eating clean, particularly as I have seen huge changes in my body since eliminating sugar, gluten and dairy from my daily diet. Eating clean helps you to focus on feeding your body with the most nutritious foods that are most beneficial in keeping your body running efficiently.

What does eating clean mean exactly? Well basically eating clean is the practice of consuming whole, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. It also means staying away from man-made foods consisting of sugar, bad fats (hydrogenated, trans-fat), preservatives, and any other ingredients that are unnecessary. Foods like white bread, pre-packaged frozen meals, fried foods and chocolate bars are obvious no-no's. An easy way to remember if a food is clean; "if man made it, don't eat it."

I have an instagram account, which I love dearly, not only for my own little collection of treasured snaps but to see my friend's creativeness and learn tips from the leaders in fitness and nutrition. One of the lovely ladies I follow is the gorgeous Ellie Gonsalves, a beautiful Australian fitness model. She is one of my biggest body inspirations as she has earned her lean and curvy figure through hard work, dedication and eating well.

Recently on her own blog, http://elliegonsalves.blogspot.com.au she posted an article on her 'Clean Eating Plan', giving us a run-down on what she eats to get in shape. Ellie emphasises that sticking to a planned daily routine is important to ensuring you stay on track with your diet, and consistency is key.

You will also notice meals are eaten frequently throughout the day, which helps your metabolism stay in high intensity and not store fat. Ellie's mantra is 'do not skip meals!' as it slows your metabolism, and no one wants that. I also think skipping meals leads you up for a binge later and meal preparation is key. You know how it goes, you have eaten celery all day just to stuff yourself with everything in the pantry when you get home. Don't set yourself up for failure!


ELLIE GONSALVES EATING PLAN

Meal 1 – 7:00am - Breakfast
- 1 piece of organic gluten-free light rye toast + squeeze of lemon + ¼ Avocado (No Butter) + banana
OR
-A shake with half a cup of natural fresh mixed berries (no added sugar), 1 cup of raw oats + 1 scoop of protein from The Supplement Den + 1 cup of water..
- Warm water with lemon & freshly sliced ginger
- 1 scoop of Pharma-Greens with water

Meal 2 – 9:30am – Snack
- 1 medium apple + 15g natural almonds + a few goji berries

Meal 3 – 12:30pm - Lunch
50g of chick peas or 4 bean mix + salad
OR
- Salad + gluten free light rye bread made into a sandwich (Use small amount of avocado as a substitute for butter if you need it)
OR
Organic lentil pattie with sliced zucchini, carrot, garlic & onion
- 1 cup of organic green tea with freshly sliced ginger

Meal 4 – 3:30pm - Snack
- 1 cup of steamed vegetables + tofu + lentils + 4 bean mix
- 1 cup of organic green tea with squeeze of lemon with freshly sliced

Supplement Den Pre Workout Shake (20 mins before workout) –
Supplement Den During Workout Shake (Consume during workout) -
Supplement Den Post Workout Shake – 6pm (Straight after workout) –

Meal 5 – 7pm – Dinner
Vegetarian stiryfry + lentils + chickpeas+ vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, carrot, baby corn, organic tofu, squash & spinach) with garlic, chives, chilli, coriander, lemongrass & onion
OR
Veggie pattie with cooked spinach, chickpeas in an organic wrap with a side of tofu
OR
Mediterranean salad (Lentils, chick peas, leafy greens, tomatoes, spinach, spanish onion with steamed vegetables)
-       1 cup of organic chamomile tea before bed

Notes: 

  • I stay away from coffee & dairy products - Milk, cheese ect.. 
  • I drink 2- 3 litres of water per day + 1 litre for every hour of exercise done 
  • For best results on this plan – No Alcohol is the way to go! 
  • I allow myself 1 meal off per week. 
  • I take flaxseed oil + coconut oil gel capsules + hair, nails & skin supplement + a multi-vitamin every morning with breakfast
  • Stick to this plan 100%. 
  • Avoid store bought juices, coffee, milk & sugary drinks/energy drinks

September 03, 2012

Father's Day Low-Cholesterol Pistachio and Ginger Cupcakes


We all worry about our dad's heart health so what better way to treat him on Father's Day then with some low-fat ginger and pistachio cupcakes! My dad loves ginger and I think it must be a bit of a dad thing; my friends all agreed on the flavour choice noting their dad's were a fan of the spice too. I iced these gingerbread cakes with some sticky creamy icing, made with Pashmak pistachio fairy floss. To decorate, I adorned with some star-shaped freckles.

August 30, 2012

Jennifer Hawkins Diet and Body Advice


The former Miss Universe and model says no to booze, does regular boxing and Pilates classes, avoids salt in her diet and keeps up her water intake to maintain her glorious figure.

Jen displayed the results of her discipline and hard work while shooting her new Cozi by Jennifer Hawkins bikini collection. She shares her secrets to maintaining her shape. 

"I laid off alcohol for three weeks and I feel good for that. I always am quite healthy but I like to have a glass of wine every now and again. I have a new (personal) trainer, so that has been really fun to do something different. I've been boxing and doing weight training and doing lots of repetitions. I've also been doing yoga and Pilates.

I find that sticking to a low-carbohydrate diet most of the time works for me; it doesn't work for everyone but if I make an effort to eat more protein I'm not as hungry as often. Carbs taste good, but my body doesn't work as well if I have too many.

I do a little bit of cooking, but it's purely for practical purposes, not anything fancy – I wish I could!

When I'm at home one of the meals I love to cook is really lean mince with broccoli and a nice sauce. That's my favourite meal, I always love it. Breakfast is usually either Special K or Weet-Bix, or I'll have eggs on toast. For lunch I have a chicken or tuna salad or a beautiful sandwich with wholemeal bread.

Diet is particularly important before a shoot or parade, so then I really take note of the amount of carbohydrates I'm eating.

Socialising is a challenge when it comes to my diet – when you go out to lunch or dinner there's always amazing food. You might have a drink, too, or a bit of bread on the side – it's so hard to say no.

If I have a shoot the next day or coming up soon, I'll just have one cocktail and get my girlfriends to keep the bread basket away from me. They're good about things like that – they understand.

Exercise makes me feel energised. Even just getting outside for a walk helps to release stress. It's like a moving mediation – you come back a different person.

I work out most days. It depends on my schedule. If I can, I will exercise six days a week. On average I do cardio five times a week, either walking or running, and I love Pilates so I do that twice a week, too.

Pilates is great because I can target the areas of my body that I want to work on. I use the cadillac – that's a special piece of Pilates equipment, also known as a trapeze table – plus another machine called a reformer, and I do mat work.

It's good for your core. The day after my sessions I'm really sore but that's good because I know it's working.

If I'm sluggish, which isn't too often, I have a rest... that's your body telling you to rest. I eat pretty well, so I feel good most of the time. Sometimes the words Cozi Cozi Cozi come into my head and boom, I'm up.

To quickly drop a dress size, eliminate carbs. I try to avoid any processed foods and white food in my normal diet, but cut it out completely when I'm getting ready for a swimwear shoot. The white food ban isn't a strict rule because life gets pretty boring when you make too many rules, but it's a great one to keep in mind.

Also, drink lots of water in the lead-up to a big day — be it a wedding or a bikini unveiling — but don't drink so much on the actual day that you will be feel bloated. And replace your milky cappuccinos with macchiatos — I'm a big fan of caffeine and don't think you need to cut it out of your diet.

I might have a period where I know I'm not doing swimwear so I can have a choc top at the movies, but I don't really go crazy on the naughty food — I don't really enjoy the aftermath.

Paleo Carb-free Risotto


Watching your carb intake at night doesn't mean you have to live off salads after 5pm, which gets especially tricky when the winter weather sets in. Satisfying your tastebuds, try a faux risotto replacing the rice component by using the very understated vegetable, cauliflower. I think it tastes better than the real thing because the cauliflower has such a lovely sweet natural flavour and the dish won't leave you with that heavy post-carb feeling.


August 26, 2012

Poached chicken with carb-free vege rice

I love the idea of cauliflower and broccoli as a carb-free rice! Not only is this a great gluten-free option but perfect for those trying the Paleo diet philosophy or simply trying to reduce carbohydrate intake at night. I heard Sammy and Bella from the Channel 7 morning show talking about the Paleo 'fake-rice' creation and I couldn't wait to try it. To accompany this healthy creation is some virtuous poached chicken; poaching chicken is not only healthy but makes the meat succulent and moist. Just make sure to use a low heat once it comes to a boil, otherwise the chicken will be tough and stringy. 

Paleo Porridge with Quinoa


A fantastic gluten-free 'grain', Quinoa is a great alternative to oats for your morning breakfast, especially since the jury is still out on whether oats mix with a gluten-free diet. Technically, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is classified not as a grain but as a type of seed, that of the goosewort plant, a relative of spinach and chard. Quinoa provides a complete protein, making it especially valuable for those who prefer to reduce or completely eliminate animal protein from their diets. It contains all the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is crucial for growing and repairing body tissues. One cup of quinoa provides 9 grams of protein which is one more gram than a medium chicken egg (and unlike the egg, quinoa is unlikely to come from a factory farm).

This seed-like grain has prebiotic properties, feeding the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract. Since it is easily digested, your body can readily access the vitamins and minerals it contains. Quinoa also provides a good source of insoluble fiber, promoting healthy elimination processes, helping maintain colon health and preventing the formation of gallstones. The folate and vitamin B in quinoa also boost the liver's ability to eliminating toxins from the body. People at high risk for cancer, as well as those with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease are often advised to eat more whole grains, yet if they have celiac disease or other forms of gluten sensitivities, they must steer clear of many popular grain products. This is why Quinoa is so important for those gluten-free followers. 

Quinoa Porridge 

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of quinoa – soaked and rinsed.
  • 1 cup of almond milk plus extra to serve
  • 2 teaspoons of Natvia sweetener
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • your choice of topping such as blueberries, strawberries, chopped almonds or hazlenuts, sliced banana, apple or nectarine. 

Method:

Place almond milk and rinsed quinoa in a pot and bring to the boil, then place on simmer until the quinoa has ‘popped’ and all the liquid has soaked into the seed, similar to cooking cous cous or rice.
Stir through cinnamon and enjoy either warm or cold like a pudding. Top with your fruit and nuts of choice and a little almond milk. 

'The Kind Life' Vegan Strawberry Lemon Pie




Eating vegan or healthfully does not mean you have to miss out on delicious desserts. I love the look of this stunning strawberry pie, which is great to make for a girls' night. This recipe is taken from Alicia Silverstone's vegan blog 'The Kind Life'. I have substituted the honey or agave syrup for Natvia as it is my preferred sweetener. You will need to freeze this recipe overnight, so a little pre-planning is needed. 


August 16, 2012

Giant Chocolate Button Cookies

These cookies will win the hearts of many and they are so satisfying, I think you can stop at one and feel you have adequately treated yourself; although I can't promise that theory will stick! The key to these rich biscuits is using Cadbury's giant chocolate buttons, making every bite filled with the perfect ratio of chocolate and cookie. You only need a few ingredients to make these stunners; they are the perfect present for young and old alike and never disappoint.

August 13, 2012

Watermelon and Fetta Bites

The perfect party snack, these sweet little bites are refreshing and tangy making a delicious accompaniment to a crisp glass of champagne!

August 06, 2012

Super Food Kale Chips

What makes Kale so great? A nutritional powerhouse, Kale is a fantastic source of protein and vital nutrients for vegans and vegetarians (plus those meat eaters too!). I like to make kale chips, which taste like a total treat food but are low in fat and ridiculously good for you. Start by peeling off the kale leaves and throwing away the stalks as these are too fibrous to eat. Toss leaves in one tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning (I use my favourite combination of garlic, lemon and paprika salt). Bake in a moderate oven on a lined tray for about 15 minutes, until toasted and dry. Once cool, you can store these chips in a air tight sealed bag for a few days. Read on to find out the top ten reasons why kale is such a great addition to your diet. 

August 05, 2012

The Food Rules by Michael Pollan



  1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. "When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" Pollan says.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions -- honey -- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry," Pollan says. "Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. "Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?" Pollan asks.
  7. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.