November 28, 2013

Gluten-free Breakfast: Vegan Banana Brown Rice Pudding

I follow a gluten-free diet as strictly as my willpower enables me, avoiding bread, pasta and cakes. While this task is usually not a huge ask for me, one meal I do miss is porridge. Oats are questionable for a gluten-intolerant, some people can digest them and others (like me) struggle. If I have a long morning ahead, I find something substantial like porridge will keep me satisfied right though to a late lunch, avoiding any tummy grumbling mid-meeting.

Rice pudding, especially made with brown rice, is as comforting as porridge and very filling. It will require more preparation (no one minute microwave options here) but you can make portions in advance to have on the ready. As always you can experiment with flavours and add ins. It's summer in Australia so I had fresh mango and banana to add in mine.

Other flavour combinations suggested are:
  • peeled diced apple and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of sultanas and grated orange rind
  • 1/2 cup of dried sliced apricots and substitute the almond milk for coconut milk
  • plain vanilla made with 1 fresh vanilla bean, seeds removed and cooked with pod in

To cut a few corners, I actually used my trusty rice cooker, which makes things really simple because you add your ingredients in, push start and leave it to do its thing. Rice cookers are super cheap and you can usually find them in your grocery store or Kmart/Target for $20. If you have lots of mouths to feed, a rice cooker can be a big help. These days you can also find lots of different healthy rice varieties with add ins like quinoa, barley, chia seeds and wild rice. To boost the rice flavour for savoury dishes, try adding frozen peas or shredded spinach for some added greenery or a low-salt organic stock cube as the rice will absorb those flavors while cooking.

Vegan Banana Brown Rice Pudding

Serves 3/4 depending on serving sizes

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 3 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk + extra for topping up if needed (you can use whatever milk you prefer but check it is unsweetened, rice/oat/almond milk often has a heap of added sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon of stevia sweetener (optional depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 chopped banana
  • 1/2 mango, diced

  1. Add the uncooked rice, stevia and 2 1/2 cups of almond milk into your rice cooker and turn onto cook.
  2. Let the rice cook for 35 - 40 minutes, in which time you may need to top up with almond milk if it starts to dry out. Check after the 25 minute mark in 5 minute intervals or so, just to make sure the rice isn't catching to the bottom of the pan.
  3. If you are using a saucepan, do the same process but just bring to the boil and leave to simmer with the lid on.
  4. When the rice is tender and absorbed most of the almond milk turn onto keep warm or turn the heat off your saucepan.
  5. Stir through the fruit and 1/2 cup of almond milk to make the sauce creamy. Let sit for 10 minutes for the fruit to cook through.
  6. Transfer to bowls to serve or store in containers for a few days. Enjoy!

November 26, 2013

Skinny Red Velvet Cupcakes

This recipe is inspired by secretly healthy red velvet cupcakes recipe on 'Chocolate Covered Katie', which is this amazing blog dedicated to healthy desserts. Red velvet cupcakes are a family favourite and I wanted to make some that were as delicious as the original cakes without the gluten or sugar.

Skinny Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup spelt flour or gluten-free flour plus 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3 tbsp of cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of stevia 
  • 1/4 cup of cashew cream (see recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup beetroot juice 
  • 2 tbsp water 
Cashew Cream
  • 1 cup of raw cashews (soaked in water for at least 2 hours)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of water
  1. To make the cashew cream, drain the cashews and blend with lemon juice and water until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin tin with patty cake wrappers. 
  3. In a large bowl, sift and combine flour, cacao powder, baking soda and stevia. 
  4. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk until combined. 
  5. Pour wet into dry and stir until just combined. 
  6. Put batter into each cupcake wrapper (about 2/3 full) and bake for 15 minutes, until risen. Let sit for 10 minutes to cool before removing from the mufin tin.

Left over cashew cream can be used as a delicious dressing for salads.

To ice the cupcakes, use vegan cream cheese or low-fat cream cheese whisked with some stevia to make a tangy icing.

November 24, 2013

Geordie Shore's Vicky Loses the Party Girl Weight

Following another six-week stint of filming the MTV's Geordie Shore, reality star Vicky Pattison had reached up to 70 kilos after indulging in takeaway and alcohol every night. Admitting she could gain up to 7 kilos each season taping, Vicky had lost her self confidence

"When I am at my heaviest I just don’t feel confident at all. I have all these sexy clothes and I don’t feel like wearing any of them at all."

After a series of unflattering photos were published, Vicky decided to change her unhealthy lifestyle. Dropping from a size 16 to a size 8 in just two months, Vicky cut out alcohol and saturated fat to reshape her body.

Feeling energetic and positive, Vicky is proud of herself and find exercise quite therapeutic. Despite her weight loss triumph, Vicki admits the lifestyle change has been a struggle. ‘It’s a struggle maintaining this body, let alone thinking about losing more weight. It’s a nightmare.’ A confessed carb-lover, she does miss bread and pasta but knows that no one is perfect. She stays motivated by keeping her goal weight as her incentive.

"All I remember is how badly I felt when I couldn't fit in to any of my clothes. I just remember that when I feel like giving up."

The party lifestyle had taken its toll on the 25-year-old

Booze binges have now been swapped for peppermint tea and outdoor workouts. For breakfast, the newly-fit star will have porridge and fresh fruit, spinach and eggwhite omlette or protein pancakes. Lunch will be a salad with lean meat, followed by grilled fish and vegetables for dinner.

Vicky is adamant this lifestyle change will be permanent, saying 'I am a healthy, strong young girl, and I still have a bit more to lose.'

Taking to Twitter, Vicky thanked her fans for the support.

"Can't believe how sweet everyone is being about my weight loss! Thank you - still got work to do but I'm getting there!"

November 21, 2013

Fitness For All Seasons, contributed by Emily Stone

With readers from all over the globe, myself and reader turned guest contributor, Emily Stone (fellow fitness freak and health food addict) teamed up to offer fitness tips for every season. Different environments and climates bring their own set of challenges to our healthy mindsets and our ability to reach set fitness goals. Read our tips for exercising no matter the weather, giving you no excuses, only motivation to dodge those Christmas pounds.

November 10, 2013

Vegan Birthday Cake: Guest Post by Stefanie Moir

First of all thank you Amy for featuring my birthday cake on your blog!

I became a vegan at the start of this year and I am passionate about health and fitness, I try to eat wholefood every day and limit processed food and sugar.

I bought a book by Chloe Cascarelli, a vegan chef who is well known in the UK for her successful winning of a popular television show “Cupcake wars.”  Her book “Vegan Desserts by Chloe” is amazing and has several of dif
ferent sweet treats for everyone, not just vegans.

I decided to take on the mixed berry shortcake as my birthday cake; I should let you in on a secret that this was risky as I have never made a full cake from scratch never mind a vegan cake! I also set myself a challenge to make a cake that was sugar and gluten free. With my track record of failed attempts looming in the background I went at it … for about 3 hours!

Not only was I nervous about this cake and how it would turn out, taste, look, but also what all my family would think of it too (they are not too big on the idea of desserts being healthy).  I will tell you this, not only was this cake vegan, gluten free, and free from added sugar, it was delicious and a huge hit with all my family! My gran even snuck an extra piece home in her purse.

November 04, 2013

Protein Truffles

These protein truffles are filled with essential fats and are low in sugar, making them the perfect snack in between meals.

Protein Truffles

  • 2 scoops of protein powder in chocolate or vanilla (I use Sunwarrior Vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup of sultanas or chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds (I used a mix of black and white)
  • 1/4 cup of LSA
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 5 - 6 tablespoons of hot water 
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil
  • To coat: 2 tablespoons of cacao powder mixed with 1 tablespoon of stevia/extra chia seeds

  1. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the oil and a few tablespoons of water. Combine until the mixture starts to come together to form a dough. Keep adding water until the mixture is firm but not too sticky. 
  2. Roll the mixture into bite-sizes balls and coat with cacao mix and/or chia seeds.
  3. Let set in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.