If at first you don’t succeed…

If you’re looking for a 5 week quick fix then look away now – this progress has been a long time coming! As someone who was never eating to lose weight, my fuel was always based around performance and how much extra weight I could get on the bar as opposed to how I looked! IMG_5951 I trained pretty intensely 5-6 days a week so I  ate what I wanted without monitoring. Low carb – high fat was how it was for some time, and while I was never overweight I did get a bit of a shock when I hit the scales at 72kg in January of this year. Even though there was a lot of muscle there, I’m only 5ft 3 remember, and was looking pretty stacked lol! I felt it was time to focus on my diet and see what was going on. IMG_5968 Enter MyFitnessPal: When I started tracking, I noticed my fats were in surplus (a lot) and I wasn’t eating near enough protein or carbs. A lot of us are programmed to believe that carbs are bad so we tend to avoid them, leaving us not properly fuelled for all the training we’re putting in! I introduced oats and rice, upped my protein and in a short space of time I was down to 70kg (now we all know the scales are no good for tracking as muscle weighs more etc etc). This is when I got in touch with Dominic Munnelly to help me out with my nutrition. Dominic has been in the Industry for over 15 years and applies an “evidence based” approach rather than a quick fix, and after attending a seminar with himself and Danny Lennon it was just what I needed! I met up with Dominic and we spoke about my goals, he took all my measurements and sorted out my macros and calorie intake, so here’s what I’m working off at the moment:

2,437cals/day to maintain

1,937 to drop 1lb or 0.5kg per week

So with that my macros look like:

190g carbs per day (40%)

143g protein per day (30%)

63g fat per day (30%)

Within a month of following these macros I was down to 68.5kg and my strength training hasn’t suffered which is something I was worried about. I’m due to meet up with Dominic soon to discuss my progress and future goals. IMG_5966 What I’ll say is I am not someone who likes to have rules and restrictions on eating, as I don’t think it’s healthy for the body or mind. If we follow a more balanced approach we will reach our goals over time and without feeling like we’re on some crazy diet. Instead it’s a lifestyle, a way of eating for life and not some 5 week challenge where you’re miserable and hating every second of it. Yes, you will probably lose some weight but you can be guaranteed it won’t stay off for long when you start eating normally again. The truth is, there is no quick fix but think about fueling your body with colourful, nutritious food and in time you will get the results you want – you just gotta have patience!   img_1225

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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.

 

Boojum restaurant-Dublin 8

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Over the last few years burritos have become a staple part of most Dubliners diet, with more and more Mexican style eateries popping up in our colourful city. Not all have mastered the art, but one spot that is (in my opinion) the leader of the pack is Boojum. They have something for everyone, and you always know what you’re getting. I was really excited to be invited to try out their new restaurant located in the very vibrant Dublin 8.

Upon entering, the first thing I noticed is the size of the place. The original branch in the Millenium Walkway can get cramped very quickly, and is somewhere you may only eat with a couple of friends, but this new spot is somewhere you can have fun and eat with a group. It’s very spacious and the huge windows all around the building meant that it’s beautifully bright aswell.

Big Space!

Big Space!

In true Boojum style I am greeted by their happy, upbeat staff and shown around the space. I am told that the kitchen here is double the size of the Northside Boojum, so everything is made fresh in-house. The menu is the same – why change something that doesn’t need changing I say! I choose my favourite option, the salad – this is basically a burrito in a bowl, lettuce leaves, Mexican spiced veg, carnitas (aka pulled pork), guacamole (70c extra) salsa verde and cheese. With the burrito in a bowl, I love how it’s all about the meat – there’s lots of it and there is nothing getting in the way, you can dive right in. But I’m sure a lot of you burrito lovers enjoy getting your hands dirty, with the traditional style.

I also got to try some corn tortillas which come with a trio of dips: guac, salsa and hot cheese sauce. I don’t usually like melted cheese. but Oh my God the cheese dip was insanely addictive!! A source from Boojum advised: “The Hard Tacos and Nachos are gluten free (but if you are getting nachos, the queso is not so just choose regular cheese instead” How great is that?? (For allergy suffers please check again instore for advice)

Nachos and Burrito Salad-YUM!

Nachos and Burrito Salad-YUM!

If you want to lose a few hours like me and my friend, then Boojum, Dublin 8 is a great spot. We never felt rushed or pressured to leave – this can sometimes happen in the other branch as it’s so busy with people queuing to get in! The Northside based Boojum is more convenient for me, but if I was looking to have a low-cost meal with a group of friends then I would definitely choose this location.

Burrito Geek!

Burrito Geek!

Great job Boojum!!

Healthy Ice Lollies

There we are in Murphys in 1993 (I think)

There we are in Murphys in 1993 (I think) Sisters to the left, Brother up front and me in the purple (watermelon) dress 🙂

As children, myself and my siblings spent every summer in Ibiza. My uncle who is a singer, ran an Irish pub there and entertained the masses. He actually only retired from the pub after 26 years – the end of an era for our family but we have very fond memories of this island that will go on forever. I was only 6 when we started to visit, so my memories of Ibiza would be very different to others; swimming pools, slides and one of my favourite treats: Strawberry Calipso. I probably ate one every day, and I’m not sure if they sell this flavour in Ireland now, but growing up you could only get them in Spain which made it extra special.

Tiger is awesome for fun finds!

Tiger is awesome for fun finds!

While shopping in Tiger recently I saw a set of push up-ice lolly moulds, and the memories of siiting by the pool as a child came flooding back –  I had to buy them! Like everything in Tiger they were super cheap, at only €4 for 4 moulds. The weather has been so humid over the last couple of weeks, meaning ice lollies make the perfect treat. They are so easy to make, using only 4 ingredients and 2 mins preparation time – the hardest part will be waiting for them to set!

Berry Blast

Berry Blast

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • 500ml coconut milk (or dairy free alternative)
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • Juice 1 Lime

Method:

1. Add all ingredients to a blender, blend for about 20 seconds until smooth.

2. Pour into moulds and leave to set over-night.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

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.

mindfulness

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!

 

 

Turkey Sliders with a courgette bun

According to the supermarkets, it’s BBQ season, however Mother Nature is not getting the message – looking out the window at the grey clouds it feels like we’re stuck in Spring! But does the unpredictable weather stop us Irish doing all of the summery things we love? Definitely not! If you want to cook your dinner on the BBQ – do it, whatever the weather. If you want to swim in the ocean, dive in (at your own peril)!

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I braved the sea on Friday along with friends and I must say it’s quite the experience, and once your body becomes numb from the ice cold water it’s actually not too bad -refreshing to say the least!

Are there any benefits from this? Why in God’s name would we do this to ourselves?! Well after the initial shock, the water is quite soothing on tired/strained muscles, plus I slept like a baby (I couldn’t keep my eyes open past 11pm), and my skin felt nourished and soft. My verdict on a sea swim: everyone must try it!!

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This is the perfect meal for BBQ’s, and can be cooked in in a matter of minutes!

Ingredients:

Turkey Patties

  • 1 lb turkey mince
  • Bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp chipotle powder
  • Black pepper/sea salt

Courgette bun

  • 1-2 courgettes, grated
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3 tbs coconut/almond flour

2 min salsa

  • 16 vine baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Dash of extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

1. In a bowl add ground turkey, coriander, spring onion, garlic and seasoning, and mix well with hands. Shape into equal sized patties and place in the fridge for 30 mins.

2. To make the bun: in a bowl add the courgette, and then mix in the egg and chosen flour a little at a time until well combined. There shouldn’t be too much egg left over as the courgette should soak it up. In a pan over a medium heat add 1 tsp coconut oil. Add a tablespoon of the bun mix to the pan, push down and cook evenly on both sides (it will spread out like a pancake). When the buns are golden brown, remove from the heat and transfer to a chopping board. Cut out a circle shape using a large glass/cookie cutter, and repeat until all of the mix is used up.

3. You can now cook the patties on a hot BBQ. Cook on both sides until fully cooked, making sure not to push down too much as this will dry them out.

4. To make the salsa, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

5. Serve the bun, patties, and salsa together. You can even add some guacamole as an accompaniment!

AIMEE

Bon Appetit… 

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 🙂