Lemon and Honey Polenta Cake

11221577_930038320400085_588745345756165927_nI received a lovely gift of a Gluten Free cooking workshop at Cooks Academy last year. It was very hands on and we made everything from soda bread to delicious pizza. One of the highlights for me was a very moreish lemon polenta cake. I am a sucker for zingy citrus flavours and the polenta cake was exactly that! Sadly it’s taken me this long to actually make it again!

You’ve probably heard of Polenta but do you know what it is? Polenta hails from Italy! It’s a corn variety and is generally cheap to source. I love the grittiness it gives this cake recipe, a unique texture!

In this recipe I’ve used coconut sugar which can be sourced from most supermarkets now (Woo-hoo breakthrough!). Don’t be alarmed that it gives the cake a darker appearance than normal!

10955145_883344638402787_7481776666188425883_n

Ingredients: 

Cake

  • 1 cups (200 grams) soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 1 cup ( 200 grams) caster sugar 
  • 1 cup (200 grams) ground almonds 
  • 100 grams fine polenta (or cornmeal)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (see note below)
  • large eggs 
  • zest of  lemons (save juice for syrup)

Honey Syrup

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. Grease a 9 inch springform cake tin lightly with butter or line with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until it’s pale and consistency is smooth. You can do this either by hand or using a mixer.
  4. Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter/sugar mixture, mix in 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and egg mix. Ensure you are constantly beating.
  5. Finally, mix in the lemon zest and transfer the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes.
  6. Important note: It may seem wobbly but, if the cake is cooked, a toothpick should come out clean and the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
  7. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack.

To make syrup

  1. Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and honey in a small saucepan.
  2. Prick the top of the cake with a toothpick and pour this syrup slowly and evenly over the top of the cake. (keep in the pan)
  3. Allow the cake to soak up the syrup (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from the pan and serve.

13256522835_91a206b360_o

Advertisements

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

Easy Slow cooker Pulled Pork

It’s a sin that I’ve only made my first batch of pulled pork this week, I’ve eaten so much of the stuff – there was a revolution in Dublin for a while there! Pork shoulder is so cheap to buy, even when purchased from a decent butcher. I got two huge pieces in FX Buckleys for about €11.50, this is enough to feed 8-10 people. One thing I’ll advise is that if you are cooking the pork in the slow cooker, ask the butcher to remove the skin as it doesn’t work when cooked with it on. If you decide to cook it in the oven you can keep this as it will turn into delicious crackling. This time (much to my butchers disgust lol) I had to cook it in the slow cooker for convenience. You can’t go wrong with a slow cooker, you throw everything in and you don’t go near it for 8-10 hours. Go to sleep and then wake up to delicious juicy pulled pork!

unnamed

This recipe was adapted from the CHOW website

Ingredients:

Serves 8-10 people

  • 6lbs higher-welfare shoulder of pork
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar (brown sugar if you’re not too strict)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and pour in the stock. Combine the sugar and spices in a small bowl. Wash the pork week and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork and place it on top of the onions and garlic. Cover (no peeping) and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 10/11 hours on low.
  2. Turn off the slow cooker and carefully remove the pork to a chopping board. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium (heatproof) bowl. Pour the onion mixture from the slow cooker through the sieve and leave both to one side.
  3. If the pork has a bone, remove and discard it (I used boneless). Using 2 forks, shred the meat, discarding any large pieces of fat. Add the shredded meat back to the slow cooker and mix the onion mix you separated back in to the meat.

Now to re-cook with a delicious sauce- this is my own recipe!

IMG_4594

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup stock drained from slow cooker
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Pour the tomatoes on top of the meat, then add the spices and mix thoroughly (you could even use your hands to ensure it gets marinated well).

2. Turn the slow cooker back on for about 40 minutes to 1 hour.

I made burrito bowls with this for a dinner party and it was perfect! Cant wait to try it again!

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

photo1

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 🙂

Seeking Perfection….

What advice would I give my 16 year old self? Hold your head up high and know that you are beautiful inside and out! As a teenager I was obsessed with being skinny, I hated all my clothes because I thought they made me look fat! Getting dressed in the morning was a massive ordeal and 700 outfits later I would be “somewhat” happy with my choice! My final choice would usually consist of something oversized and baggy-being 5 ft 4 I figured if I can’t be sexy I may as well be cute!

Yep-that's me at 16!

Yep-that’s me at 16!

I’m sure I am not the only woman who has experienced these emotions – Why do we feel this way? Why should we? Do all curvy women equate being skinny with success? Do all petite ladies think that curves are what their future husband/wife seeks? Of course not! The most amazing thing in the world is that no-one else can be you, you’re completely unique and we shouldn’t hurt ourselves by trying to be anything other than that!

Everyday of my life I have heard women say things like “I’m so fat”, “I hate my legs”, “I hate my nose”, “I wish I was like so and so…”, and it honestly makes me sad.  As I get older and (somewhat) wiser, I remember these feelings, and how much time I wasted on negative thoughts. I look back at old photos now and I wonder why I ever cared- There was nothing wrong with me (Well aside from the blue eyeshadow and plaits) but in my head the mirror seemed to lie!

This world would be very boring if we all looked the same wouldn’t it? Social media makes it easy for people to compare their lives to others as we see more of people than ever before. It can have long-lasting, damaging effects. Stop comparing yourself to others and learn to love what you have!

photo1(18)

Here’s a challenge for you: Before your morning routine, stand in front of the mirror and pick out your favourite asset. Be thankful for being you – a beautiful, unique individual. Pick a new positive thing about yourself every morning.

Over the last 12 years I have had many up and downs; going from a teenager to an adult was not an easy transition, and learning to love and accept myself was definitely a journey. I remember being called “thunder thighs” when I was 14. This haunted me for all these years – but now I believe I have strong legs that help me to lift exceptionally heavy weights. I now believe with every negative experience there is a positive, although it maybe hard to see that at the time! I never for a second would have thought that I would do something like Olympic weightlifting (let alone compete!) I did however believe at this point in life- I would be selling out the Point Depot (now known as the O2 in Dublin)  – but you know, singing in the shower is fine with me!

As I close off this post I ask this – what is perfection? My thought is that there is perfection in everyone, but the media gives us a false impression of what people are supposed to look like. Don’t forget that these magazines use pictures and images that have been airbrushed a zillion times, not to mention the articles that tell us who is too fat or too skinny this week. It’s no wonder people put so much pressure on themselves, this stuff is toxic to the mind!

We all still have off days but when I have mine I know my “fabulous” 1950s dress always makes me feel like a million dollars. I put this on along with red lipstick and some sky scraper heels and I’m happy out. Your mood lifter could be getting your hair done, your nails painted, or just being silly, dancing around your room and singing into your hairbrush! Do what makes you happy and know that you are perfect, just the way you are.

My favourite 50s dress!

My favourite 50s dress!