Paleo/Raw Fudge-Round 2

Some of you may remember last year I made some mint chocolate fudge, here’s the link: https://primalpiggy.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/mint-paleo-chocolate-fudge/

This went down so well and is one of my favourite healthy snacks to keep in the freezer for weak moments. I was very grateful to receive a package from myprotein.ie which contained a 1kg tub of almond butter to try out. Their almond butter is really yummy – it’s 100% roasted almonds with nothing extra added,and not too pricey either at €16.49. As I had such a big tub, I could use this to try out a few different recipes…and eat it straight out of the tub….a lot (don’t judge me!!)

This fudge is so yummy and doesn’t taste like a cheat, it’s quite rich but also very moreish so you will definitely be running back for more! I made two flavours and while I loved the orange one, the peanut butter just about came out on top for me,

Here is the first recipe which is a chocolate orange flavour.

photo2Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder, sifted
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange

Second flavour is: Double chocolate peanut butter

photo1(2)Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup almond butter
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup sweet freedom choc shot
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • ½ cup raw cacao, sifted

1. In a bowl add all of the ingredients except the cacao powder. Stir until everything is combined, then add the cacao powder and mix well.

2. Pour the mix into your dish – a silicone cake dish is ideal, but I used a small oven dish lined with parchment paper and it worked perfectly. Also make sure the mixture is poured thickly rather than thinly. For the double chocolate one, make a design on top using the sweet freedom syrup before placing in the freezer.

3. Freeze for 1-3 hours before serving and cut into squares to serve.

 

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Stress, learning to live in the moment, and some paleo banana bread

Article by Nicola McGillicuddy

 

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Stress can manifest itself in the human body in different ways. It can induce migraines, exacerbate skin conditions, and aggravate digestive disorders. Personally, it can cause my IBS to flare up, not to mention do things like walk 5km home from college still wearing my lab coat (I honestly thought I must have been looking really well that day from the amount of looks I got).

Recently I’ve been thinking about how to manage my stress better in order to improve my health and wellbeing, and have been wondering how much I actually bring on myself. I let myself get wound up by everyday stressors; traffic, rude people, my workload. I can worry about things that haven’t happened yet. I can give myself 100 things to do every day, and if I don’t get them all done, I feel like a failure. Sometimes I actually write things on my lists that I’ve already completed just so I can cross them off – other people do that too right? Right?! When my IBS would flare up, it was frustrating because I felt I was doing so much right. I generally exercise regularly, eat quite clean, and take the supplements I think my body needs. But did I make sure I took time out to reflect and relax even for a few minutes every day? I most definitely did not. I was too busy adding more things to my never ending lists. However, giving our minds the same care and attention that we give to our bodies is vital for good health and wellbeing.

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I’ll explain how in a little sciencey bit. When we are under stress, our brains set off an alarm to our bodies, which in turn release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases the heart rate and boosts energy supplies, while cortisol (the primary stress hormone) increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also supresses functions that would be nonessential in a fight-or-flight situation. These include immune system responses, regulating the digestive and reproductive systems, and growth processes. This stress response system can also control mood, motivation and fear. Typically, once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. Adrenaline and cortisol levels decrease, the heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels, and other systems resume their regular activities. But when stressors are always present (as is so common these days), that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. This in turn leads to a long-term release of cortisol, which can disrupt many of the body’s processes. We are then at increased risk of many health problems, including anxiety and depression, digestive issues, weight gain, and issues with sleeping. So you can see why learning to cope with stress is so important.

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Something I’ve been working on to manage my stress is by practicing mindfulness, which is the practice of bringing attention to the present moment, or paying attention “on purpose”. We live in a fast paced, technologically driven society where everything we want is at our fingertips, and when we want something we want it now. We are greedy; for information, things, time. We keep 10 tabs open on our laptops at any one moment. We check our phones 6 times while waiting for the bus. We eat our dinner in front of the T.V. We meet people for coffee, but are thinking about where we need to be afterwards. While writing this I’ve already thought about what to have for dinner tonight, that I need to put petrol in my car, and whether or not I should watch Game of Thrones (am I the only one who doesn’t watch it? I feel so left out!) We do 5 things at once because we’ve been taught that think multitasking makes us more efficient, rather than really focusing on one thing at a time, and truly living in the moment. Mindfulness is a non-reactive state that teaches us to notice something, acknowledge it, and let it go. By doing this we can decrease the effect of something (both positive and negative) on our lives, and create a space of freedom.

When I originally started to practice mindfulness, I really struggled. I thought that the goal was to stop the myriad of thoughts that I had, but trying to do that is impossible. I got frustrated when I couldn’t “switch off”, as I thought I wasn’t doing it right – but this is human nature. Really, the only bad mindfulness or meditation is the one that you don’t do. The goal is actually to bring my awareness back to myself, and what I’m doing in that moment. I started off using an app called Headspace (yes, I appreciate the irony of a piece of technology helping me to practice mindfulness!), which I used to help me start with 10 minutes for 10 days – the first day it seemed I couldn’t focus for more than 20 seconds, but like anything, perseverance is the key and slowly I started to see the benefits. Now I try to take at least 10-20 minutes a day to really be present. Some days I can focus, some days not so much, but I make those few minutes a priority, like I do with the gym, or cooking healthy food.

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I wouldn’t say I’m a Zen warrior now, but I’m definitely getting better at accepting things that happen rather than trying to change them. I write a list of the 3 most important things I can realistically do in a day rather than swamping myself and adding to my stress mountain – and I feel so much better for it. I do still do things like accidentally sit on cake, but I don’t think I can blame the stress for that! If you want a starting point for practicing mindfulness, maybe pick one thing a day – making a coffee, taking a shower, reading the newspaper, listening to a song – and really focus on it for those short few minutes.

Today I focused on making (and eating…and eating more…I really focus on the eating) this paleo banana bread – I’ve tried and tested loads of banana bread recipes and this is definitely my fave one so far. Bananas are a good source of tryptophan, which is an amino acid the body uses to make 5-HTP, a compound which is then used to manufacture serotonin and melatonin, two important mood and sleep-regulating neurotransmitters. Use the ripest bananas possible for extra sweetness, and enjoy while doing…absolutely nothing else! Have a wonderful week x

 

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Ingredients

  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup/honey
  • 1 Tbsp organic vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup walnuts/chopped dark chocolate (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease a 2 lb loaf tin.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the bananas, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and egg yolks.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together and stir into the wet mixture until well combined.
  4. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form, and fold into the bread mixture a bit at a time, until fully incorporated.
  5. Fold in chopped walnuts/dark chocolate if using.
  6. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Enjoy with butter, almond butter or on its own!

 

 

Raw Bounty Bites

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Lately I can’t get enough of coconuts, as they truly are a magical superfood. I mean, what other food can you eat but also use for cosmetic purposes?! I first heard about coconut oil several years ago from my Mam, who would buy it to use as a body moisturiser!! Now my cupboard is stocked with coconut oil, coconut butter, dessicated coconut, coconut water/milk, the list goes on. So why should we all ensure we include this superfood in our diet?

  • Protects against heart disease by increasing good cholesterol and lowering the ratio of bad and good cholesterol.
  • Boosts metabolism and increases energy. This is because the body burns the fat from coconut as fuel rather than storing it as body fat.
  • Reduces sugar cravings as the healthy fats in coconut slow down any spikes in sugar levels.
  • Coconut helps to aid digestion by promoting the absorption of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and amino acids, while also providing beneficial dietary fiber.
  • May prevent strokes and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Can kill disease causing bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses.
  • Prevents damage to hair and soothes skin issues such as dry skin, sunburn, insect bites, due to its healing properties.
  • Using coconut oil for a technique called “oil pulling” can prevent tooth decay and whiten teeth.
  • Relieves stress by applying coconut oil to the head in a circular, massaging motion. The natural aroma of coconuts is soothing, thus helping to lower your stress level.
  • Coconut water is the ultimate hangover cure; it can help settle your tummy and replaces lost electrolytes.

The list above gives a small few of the many benefits of the humble coconut, however my favourite use is for cooking, and I have created a fun treat that will definitely take you back in time

Here is a recipe for my Bounty Bites, a recipe based on the famous “Bounty” chocolate bar.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
  • 50g 85% dark chocolate (or raw equivalent)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Method:

1. Place the 2 cups of shredded coconut in a food processor along with the coconut butter. Process on high speed, scraping down the sides with a spatula until it reaches a paste-like consistency. Don’t over blend, some larger pieces of coconut are ok.
2. Add the maple syrup, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, and process until combined.
3. Shape the mixture into squares and refrigerate for at least an hour to set.
4. When they’re ready, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl over hot water, and dip each bite in until fully coated.Transfer to the fridge again to set.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

 

Review: Kinetica Supplements

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I received some samples from Kinetica recently – a mix of Whey Protein and Recovery drinks. Kinetica are an innovative sports nutrition brand, offering the latest in sport and fitness supplements. They have a great range of flavours and the ones I trialled certainly passed the taste test! I don’t tend to take whey protein due to the dairy content, but I was interested to see how I would I would feel, and if the product would boost my training.

As someone who works 9 to 5, I tend to be pretty hungry by the time I hit my 6.30pm class. What I loved about the product was that when I consumed the shakes I had heaps more energy. Even after an intense wod I felt that I still had enough energy to work on some weightlifting skills – I’m pretty sure I even hit some PR’s!

My only negative is that personally I prefer to consume “raw proteins” so Hemp Protein would be at the top of my list. However, that wouldn’t stop me buying the Recovery for post-wod fuel, or using their protein for baking purposes (See recipe below).

The nutritional content of the ones I trialled are as follows:
Whey Protein: This is a high protein supplement that gives you 118kcal and 23.0g protein per 30g serving.
Pro-Release: This is a sustained release protein blend. A typical 30g serving gives you 110kcal and 23.5g protein. Great for post workout.
Recovery: Consists of 2:1 (Carb:Protein) post workout formula, containing a tri-carb blend and the highest quality proteins and vitamins, No BCAA’s added to this recovery supplement, although it contains L-Arginine and L-Carnitine.

Taking the supplements for one week only won’t make any major changes, but it showed me that consuming protein/recovery during training definitely helps to push you forward. Kinetica are keeping things exciting by offering great flavours and tons of variety, so there is something for everyone!

For the recipe below I used their Mint Chocolate Protein to make some yummy protein squares, hope you enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:
-1 cup blanched almonds (any nuts would work here)
– 1/3 cup flaked almonds
-2-4 scoops of protein powder- I used Kinetica Mint Chocolate flavour
-1/3 cup dates (finely chopped)
-1 tbsp honey,
-1/2 cup peanut butter
-1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
-1/4 cup shredded coconut

Method:
1. Blend the nuts in a food processor until broken into small pieces.
2. In a large bowl, mix the nuts with the remaining ingredients.
3. Line a flat square oven dish with parchment paper. Pour in the protein square mix, and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
4. Sprinkle some shredded coconut and flaked almonds over the top, and place in the freezer for an hour to set. Keep stored in the fridge.

Raw Mango and Lime Cheesecake

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Cheesecake has always been one of my favourite desserts; creamy topping, melt in the mouth base, it’s just perfect! It’s also full of everything I try to avoid (sad face) It was my sister and her friend’s birthday recently so I decided to make a raw delight for the Party. Everyone loves Cheesecake right? Well I decided to try out a raw version. I opted for Mango & Lime as these are great summer flavours, and I wanted to add some punch to a raw food dish.

Ingredients:

Base

  • 1  Cup Almonds
  • 1 Cup Pecans
  • 3/4 Cups Pitted Dates
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut
  • 1/4 Cup Cacao Nibs (Optional)
  • Zest of 1 Lime
  • Pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt

Filling

  • 2 Cups Cashews soaked for no less than an hour, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Mango peeled and chopped
  • Juice Half Lemon
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup ( raw honey etc)
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, Seeds scraped out
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Butter (substitute with coconut oil if needed)
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Milk

Topping:

  • Dark/Raw Chocolate flakes
  • Zest of Lime

Instructions:

1. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform tin with coconut oil or butter. To make the base; add the almonds and pecans to a food processor, and pulse until it’s close to a flour consistency, then add the remaining ingredients. Press the dough into the bottom of your tin, smooth out and place in the fridge to chill.

2. For the filling; add all the ingredients to your food processor, and blend until you get a very smooth consistency. This will take a few minutes and it’s important that there are no lumps. When it’s ready, pour over the case and using a spatula spread it out evenly. Add the topping and place in the fridge to set before transferring to a freezer for about 2-3 hours to really firm up.

To serve: Remove from the freezer about an hour before serving.

** Cake accessories from Tiger

Happy 1st Birthday!!

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I cannot believe I started this blog 1 year ago today. It still feels so new to me and I’m still learning every day. To date, I have posted 89 posts. This will be my 90th! I want to thank each and every person that has visited my site, and given me the inspiration to keep this project running! My goals for 2014 will include a better website so you can find recipes much quicker, continuing to post regularly, and also continue to work with Box Rox, as writing for them has been a huge learning curve and an exciting project! I hope that you will continue to enjoy my work and I am eager to see what the next year brings.

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I know you have all been excited about the Triple Chocolate Brownies I posted so to celebrate my 1st Birthday here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Cashews
  • 1/2 Cup Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Butter ( I used Wyldsson)
  • 2 Cups Dates (Soaked for 1 hour)
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Cacao Nibs
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil (melted)
  • 1/2 80% Dark Chocolate Bar
  • Packet of 70% Dark Chocolate Buttons

Instructions:

1. This is optional but I roasted the almonds to giver more flavour, If you are doing this roast for around 10 mins until golden brown and you get a nutty aroma.

2. In a food processor add the cashews and process until it reaches a flour-like consistency, then add vanilla, almond butter, cacao powder, cacao nibs, roasted almonds and blend again. Finally add the dates a little at a time, blending each time more is added.

3. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and tip the mixture in, using a spatula press down and spread the mix out, keep pressing until even. Put in the fridge to set.

4. Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit a glass bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Add the chocolate and coconut oil to the bowl and stir until melted.

5. Remove the brownie base from the fridge and using a spoon pour the chocolate on top, when its covered sprinkle the buttons on top and transfer back to the fridge for about 2 hours to set completely. Cut into squares and enjoy 🙂

Raw Raspberry Chocolates

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These chocolates are a great treat for your Valentine this Friday, they are completely raw, sugar free and dairy free and didn’t you know one of the benefits of raw cacao is it’s an aphrodisiac (wink, wink) it’s a perfect treat to end your special day of love! Cue Barry White music……..

So there aren’t a lot of ingredients required here, but you will need to go to your local health shop for the majority of them.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Butter (Can be replaced with coconut oil if needed)
  • 1 Cup of Raw Cacao Powder
  • 1/4 Cup of Coconut Oil Melted
  • 1 Tablespoon of Coconut sugar (can be replaced with maple syrup
  • Handful of Cacao nibs
  • Punnet of Fresh Raspberries

Instructions:

1. In a bowl over hot water add the cacao butter, when it’s nearly melted add the coconut sugar and keep mixing until it’s all melted. Then in a new bowl pour the liquid and add the coconut oil. Add the cacao powder a little at a time and whisk/mix quickly so the powder disappears. Keep adding until you get a chocolatey paste.

2. In a mould add a sprinkle of cacao nibs and a raspberry (See below pic) then pour the chocolate mix in until the raspberries are covered.

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3. Place in the freezer for an hour until set.

And “Voila”- there you have some beautiful chocolate hearts with a little surprise in the middle,

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