Miss Iceland & Healthy Vegan Melomakarona

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Today browsing through Facebook, I have found an article about Miss Iceland, apparently she has quit the Miss Grand International. Whatever ridiculous pageant this is, to tell a perfectly beautiful, slim woman to eat “water” for the finals, skip breakfast and have a salad for lunch, is plainly criminal.

In a world like the one we live in, acts like this should not go unpunished. Enough of this already. Her goodbye letter in social media says it all. She actually explains that her shoulders are bigger than some other participants because she was in her country’s athletic team. We should be encouraging this type of healthy beauty and not perpetuating anorexic stereotypes that only cause harm to our younger generations.

 

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I went out for dinner last night and I drank almost half a bottle of an excellent Spanish wine with my friend and hell of a lot of fresh bread, a bit of a cheese platter and we even shared dessert. We were so full we texted each other about it afterwards. Today I was probably a bit heavier than usual, but you know what? It was totally worth it. It was an awesome time, with a great friend and fantastic food. I am just as beautiful (or ugly) as I was yesterday, with or without the extra weight.

This web is about eating and keeping a healthy weight, but above all, it’s about understanding that there has to be a balance and life is meant to be enjoyed, and to have proof that there are big faceless organisations that work relentlessly to make women feel like s*** just because they are not in a catwalk  shape should be punished. For that, we have the Victoria’s secret Model show and that is more than enough.

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So today I was going to share with you a recipe of a not so skinny-me cookies and I think it is perfect considering the mood 😉 so go ahead and make a batch of these. The are not low fat, in fact they are quite high in it, but they are still pretty healthy. They are wholegrain, refined sugar free and plainly delicious. The are Greek and called Melomakarona. They are apparently eaten over xmas, so here we are starting the celebration early!

I looked for a recipe online and I made some adjustments to make a little less taxing on the hips. I hope you enjoy them, so far the feedback has been really positive from all the test subjects!

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Ingredients (makes 35 biscuits)

7/8 cups or 500 gr. wholegrain flour (I used Saracen wheat which is an ancient grain)

1 1/2 cup Olive oil 

3/4 cup xylitol

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup cognac or brandy

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

For the syrup:

2 cups water

2 cups honey

2 cups xylitol

1/2 a lemon juice

Crushed walnuts for decoration

How to make it…

It is actually pretty simple to make these cookies, mix all the dry ingredients shifting them so they mix throughout. In a large bowl, mix the oil with the orange juice, the xylitol, the cognac and mix well. Once the mixture is homogeneous start adding the flour little by little. It will start to be drier by the end and ready to be shaped into biscuits.

These are quite large, the are a bit elongated and fit in your closed fist.

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Set them on a baking parchment and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 175C. They should be a bit cracked on the surface.

While they bake, you can bring to a boil in a saucer the honey, xylitol and water and let it boil for a couple of minutes, then add the juice of half a lemon.

When the biscuits come out of the oven, give them a short “bath” in the syrup in batches of 4 and let them absorb the juice over a cooling rack and then sprinkle with crushed walnuts for decoration.

In case you want to make these vegan or totally non sugar skip the honey and just use more fruit juice and reduce the syrup a bit more to make it more dense.

Just so you know, xylitol is a natural sugar, it comes from birch. It has some real benefits for the health to the point of being used as medicine. It also prevents tooth decay and it is good for diabetes since it doesn’t cause a rise in Glycemic index (blood sugar). It is also quite pricey but an excellent sugar substitute.

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Healthy Vegan Peanut Butter & Banana Breakfast cake bars

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Today I would like to share with you an easy and super healthy way to start the day, o a good snack for mid morning or mid afternoon. I believe it will be particularly interesting for those with children because they are very easy to make, and they can be stored in the fridge and be a grab & go option.

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There are two ways about this recipe, the one with an egg and the vegan option that swaps that egg for a mix of chia seeds and water. Mine is dairy free but I have used some agave nectar for sweetener, but you can easily avoid it and use any non caloric sweetener or just use one more banana.

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I have made these with oat bran to make them extra low carb and high fibre but you can use oat meal or a mixture of the two, it is entirely up to your preference.

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These are quite moist and have very much the texture of a sponge cake, with the nutty flavour of the peanuts to give it a kick. They are high in healthy fats and low in the less good ones and quite a high protein option too. All in all, a balanced and nutritious alternative to sugary cereals or other treats. You can also use them as a sweet tooth trick because they do taste divine and they wont take a toll on the scales.

Ingredients (makes 12 portions)

1 1/2 cups oat bran

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg/ 2 tbsp chia seed in 3 tbsp of water

1/4 cup of unsweetened peanut butter

2 ripe bananas (or 3 if you dont want to use sweetener)

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or almond or soy)

1/4 cup agave nectar/maple syrup

1 tsp baking powder

How to…

Mix in a medium bowl all the dry ingredients so they are homogeneously mixed and set aside.

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In a larger bowl mix the bananas (I used some I had frozen and i blended them in the food processor first) but you can also just mash them in the bowl with the peanut butter, then add the egg and mix until the mixture is like a dough (or the chia seeds). Then add the vanilla extract and coconut or almond milk. When everything is well mixed, add the dry mixture, combine and set in a pre-greased bowl.

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Bake at 175C for about 25 minutes. Decorate with peanut butter and peanuts and anything you may think of. Chocolate sprinkles could be a nice addition too.

Let me know if you try it!

Enjoy 🙂

 

How to Cheat… and not get caught!

d5a3498cfc9e53130b5f815ef44713b7_JetWe all want to eat chocolate biscuits and pizza, and ice cream and double cheese burgers and French fries, if possible with mayo. Crisps, cake, muffins, fish & chips, whatever tickles you… generally is something that will not be of any help when you are trying to maintain a ripped physique.

Toning and fats are generally opposite to each other, and that is dramatic because fat is precisely the one ingredient that gives your food palatability… which means good taste in simple English.

As you know if you have seen the pictures or check the recipes in this blog, eating well and clean doesn’t mean not eating delicious, but it definitely doesn’t mean eating what one wants at every opportunity.

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So anyway, I want to have my cake, and eat it too! I want a toned, slim line figure but I want to be able to enjoy the occasional treat like everyone else, because life is meant to be enjoyed!! But in order to do this, there are a couple of do’s and don’ts that we need to keep in mind.

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How to cheat then??

 

  1. Cheat meal is exactly that: a meal. Not a day, not a weekend, not a week, a meal. In a week of good food behaviour, you can take your pick and eat whatever you want in one meal, preferably with more carbohydrates to maximise the benefits, since they are the ones that will make our bodies more efficient in transferring them to the muscles afterwards.
  2. Preferably do it in a day that you are training: a big weight training day or a long run are best, to minimise the fat that could be stored after it
  3. If you are in a keto diet, that is low carb, please do not attempt this. Your body is burning fat as fuel as oppose to glucose because you are having none of it. It takes your body a certain amount of time to get into that state, that depends on the number of times you have gone in and out of keto before and the speed at which your body consumes its glucose reserves which are in the muscles and in the liver… this is generally anything between 24 and 72h. Each time you go out of keto (ie by eating a carbohydrate of certain glycemic charge) your body will happily and very quickly come out of keto state, and guess what?it will be storing up to 120% more glucose that before. What this means is that your body will take then longer to get back into keto… and each time you do this it will take longer, until it has no effect at all. Sorry to break the news to you, but someone had to. Keto, Dukan, Atkins and the sorts of those, are not compatible with cheating.
  4. You cheat once a week while trying to lose weight
  5. You can cheat twice a week once you are in maintenance
  6. You can split your cheating having a 10% of your calories from chocolate/pizza/ice cream.. a day. This is a bit silly because normally is something like ¼ portion of a slice of pizza, so basically, smell the pizza pass by you.

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So this is it, short and sweet.

Enjoy the burger my friends, and remember, cheat wisely!

 

Gluten Free Wholegrain Lemon Drizzle Cake

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Today post is a bonus post, just like the recipe that I am going to share is a bonus food. You might or might not be familiar with the concept “cheat meal” but this recipe falls under this category.

A cheat meal is one meal a week where you eat whatever you feel like. And I mean whatever, a treat of your choice, a cheeseburger with white bread and bacon and fries with mayo. A pint of Ben & jerry’s ice cream, a bit of both… doesn’t matter. The role of this meal is to “cheat” your body to avoid it from getting used to a) too low calories b) too low fat c) too controlled food intake (as in clean)

It is particularly important in the context of a body building or fitness diet, when the athlete or amateur has a strict calorie or macronutrient diet and eats clean and lean on a constant basis.

Fitness athletes and sports people that compete in body categories follow processes of “bulking” or “cutting” these are first a phase in which you over nourish your body so it creates lean muscle (with specific training for it) and then a “cutting” phase in which you reduce your calorie intake to be at a deficit and reduce your body fat percentage to the desired level (normally between 12 and 16% for women and 4 and 7% for men).

This principle also applies to people on a weight loss journey specially if they have been on a diet or on a calorie restriction for long period of time and their body could simply “adjust” and their weight loss could stop, what is called hitting a plateau.

Having one cheat meal a week will shock your metabolism giving your body the message that he will get big portions, high fat, simple carbs again, and therefore it is absolutely ok to burn some more fat, because there is more food where that came from! It will also impact your mentally, allowing you to have a social life a date, a celebratory meal and not feel like the journey doesn’t allow you to eat anything you crave. Also it can be a great way to replenish the glycogen (what fuels your muscles) on your body in low or extremely low carb diets, and you will work out with a lot of extra strength after it.

If I go out for my cheat meal, I will eat whatever I feel like in the menu, and it is fine, but if I am cooking it at home, I try to add something extra to it, in this case, I tried a new recipe for a Lemon Drizzle cake, which turned out to be delicious. It is a gluten free alternative, not because it is less fattening, because it’s not, but because I used wholegrain rice flour and almond flour, both full of fiber, which is great for your digestive system. The almonds bring a good amount of healthy fat to the mix as well, and I have observed that gluten free cakes usually have a moist and texture that makes them better than their traditional counterparts! I think it’s because of their higher fat content.

So please feel free to enjoy this cake but do it knowing that it is a treat.

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Ingredients:

200 gr. Butter (room temperature)

200 gr. Almond Flour

200 gr. Raw Moscovado Sugar (cane unrefined sugar)

100 gr. Wholegrain Rice Flour

½ tsp. Vanilla extract

1 tsp. Baking powder

3 Eggs

3 lemons

75 gr icing sugar (and 3 tbsp of water)

How to…

Heat up the over to 180C, beat up the sugar with the butter and add the vanilla extract and the eggs. Once this mixture is creamy and uniform, add the rice flour, the baking powder and the almond flour. Add the juice and the zest of one of the lemons and keep the zest and the juice of other two for the drizzle. Pour the mixture into a cake tin (18 to 13 cm diameter), mine is made of silicon so it doesn’t need to be greased but if your is metallic you will need to grease it to avoid it from sticking.

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Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. This cake takes a bit longer than others due to the consistency of the ingredients.

In the meantime, heat up the lemon juice in a saucepan with the water and the icing sugar and let it simmer for 3 to 5 minutes until it has the consistency of a light syrup.

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Once the cake is ready, let it cool down for 10 minutes and then pinch the surface with a toothpick all over the surface, pour the syrup on to the cake with the help of a spoon so it spreads out evenly. Let the cake sit for around 30 minutes to let the lemon drizzle set through the cake.

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So this cake is a reasonably healthier alternative than the classic version due to the higher fiber, higher protein and good fats (almond) and raw sugar, but it is still a cake, and it is still a treat, so enjoy in moderation as part of a healthy, well balanced diet.