The Cake Debate

Do I have cake today? YES. ALWAYS YES. Let me explain…

A few weeks ago I went to my second Fitfluence event and it was great. Not only because I got some great food and good workouts but for another reason this time. We heard from a nutritionist who started by asking “What is a healthy diet?”. A few years ago I would have responded with “Low carb, high protein, low fat and not too much fruit”. SO WRONG.

The question made me realise how much I’d learned and how much happier and healthier I was since I really learned to LOVE food and how to use it to fuel my body in the right way. What was also so refreshing was hearing answers from the crowd like “CARBS!” and “Everything in moderation“, which of course is my main moto. I was in a room with other  young women who actually liked food and weren’t scared of it, didn’t feel guilty when they indulged, and it was great.

I think most of us, girls and boys too, are guilty of having binge sessions and then after feeling pretty crap about ourselves. One of my male friends actually once had 7 quest bars (look them up if you don’t know about them… they are amazing) in one sitting and I know he didn’t feel too great after that. For me this only stopped about a year and a half ago but for a lot of my friends I know it still continues. DON’T LET IT.

Life is too short to worry about having a meal you may not have thought was good for you. Who cares? As long as you look after yourself most the time, is it really worth worrying about that one time you really enjoyed a meal, even if it was chips and some fried fish or a lot of chocolate cake?

In the end of the day, damage isn’t done to your body or your health if you have a lot of cake one day. Fine, if you have lots of cake every day it is probably not the best for you. But every once in a while, eat the cake!

The other day someone asked me if I have cheat days. The answer to this is no. Not that I always eat perfectly, that is not true at all, but I never perceive anything as a ‘cheat meal’ or a ‘cheat day’. It is just an ordinary day when I’m having some food I love and feeling good about it. The thought of it being a cheat is what makes you feel bad about it after.

One day I really fancied oreos. So I had half a packet. Did I feel bad? No, I felt mildly ill from all the sugar but I felt amazing. I could now eat half a packet of oreos and feel good! That for me was more than I could have imagined a few years ago. Back then I probably would have spent the rest of the day sulking and refused to eat enough food the next day. My relationship with food was wrong and I’m so glad I had a switch go off on my brain because now I am so much happier and so much healthier.

Health isn’t about depriving yourself, its about nourishing yourself mentally and physically. Life is too short to worry, complain, and debate cake. The answer is always CAKE.

 

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Everything in moderation

Recently, someone sent me something from Instagram which got me thinking:

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By all means, good for her… but something about this really aggravated me. I find that Instagram, although it is a great community with lots of positivity can also help to spread some negative feelings in some people. If I had seen this over a year ago, when my relationship with food was still slightly unhealthy and I felt constantly guilty for overindulging with some chips after a night out etc. I would have felt so awful.

People frequently ask me how I ‘stay so healthy all the time’. I am healthy on a day-to-day  basis but I think the view of ‘healthy’ that is enforced by posts like the above is quite unrealistic, and not necessarily what ‘healthy’ means on a broader scale.

To me, being healthy is learning balance. Admittedly, it is much easier for me to resist temptation because I can’t have dairy and this is in most ‘naughty’ foods. However, the one thing that keeps me healthy is allowing myself to eat what I want and making sure I’m not depriving myself from anything. This means allowing myself wine when I go to the pub and not going crazy in the gym the next morning because of all the extra calories.

The above post, although in the caption she does ensure people know that by no means  everyone else needs to live their life in the same way as her, preaches this almost ‘unhealthy healthy’. People need to find out what works for them and makes them happy on their own. You should never feel guilty when you’ve overindulged one day in terms of food and drink. Instead, you should just enjoy it and then feel good when you’ve had a good day. In the end enjoying what you do is the most important thing, life is too short to care about the consequences of a pizza.

This has been quite ranty and I suppose my main point of this is that to me, healthy is everything in moderation and making sure you’re happy. That means eating your fats, carbs and protein and fueling your body in a way that will make you feel good about yourself. Healthy does not mean zero carbs,  zero fats and zero alcohol, it means a good balance of everything and doing what works best for you.

Keep Calm and Eat Carbs

Sadly, I too was once fooled by the myth that carbs make you fat and that most carbs are bad for you. For a girl, this seems to be one of the most common false and unhealthy beliefs about ‘healthy eating’. Before last year I avoided carbs at dinner, tried to limit them wherever possible and would stop my mum from cooking them for me at home. — To clarify – by carbs I am referring to pastas, rice, bread, potatoes etc. and not vegetables (which are carbohydrates too!) — This only caused me distress: I experienced huge hunger pangs, and most importantly I would feel jealous and saddened that my brother, dad and male friends could seemingly shovel carbs down themselves and not worry about weight gain.

Last year I read up on some nutritional advice as I was getting more into the gym and wanted to make sure I was fuelling my body in the right way to help with recovery and muscle growth. The most reliable sources I looked at all had the same message: Keep calm and eat carbs. So, I decided to give it a go.

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Left: Fearer of all carbs, Right: Carb lover (1 year on)

Even though I had the desire to lose weight, I actually ended up increasing my calorie intake by 300 calories, and used MyFitnessPal to help me track I was eating the right proportions of food groups (Macros), particularly carbohydrates. At this point half of my diet was carb filled, and this may come as a shock to many, but I felt absolutely great.

Carbs are the most important source of energy for your body. By restricting yourself you will experience increased fatigue and hunger due to lowered blood sugar levels. I found that despite being far more active throughout the day I had so much more energy (which is what a lot of people claim happens to them when they take carbs out of their diet… which I find quite hard to believe).

If you are someone who thinks that carbs ‘bloat’ you – well, you might be right. BUT it is likely you are not eating the right ones. I do allow myself to have a lot of bread, I find this works well with my body, however most of my carbohydrate intake throughout the week will come from rice, quinoa and sweet potato. The more natural and unrefined the carb, the easier it is for you to digest and you will feel a lot better afterwards.

I’m not saying that everyone’s diets should consist of half carbohydrates, half the other macros (protein and fats), this is what works for my body with the activities I do and what I like to eat. You have to find out what works for you. However, it is a huge error to completely cut out carbs. Obviously if you are wanting a last minute week of cutting before a holiday, then go for it, but ridding carbs from your diet is not a sustainable way to achieve the results you want.

So really my main point of this post is to try to get people to stop fearing carbs and be their friends. Why not try out my Overnight OatsSweet Potato Fries or Egg Fried Rice recipes and give it a go?

Chickpea, Sweet potato and Quinoa Salad

So in my previous blog post I spoke of how I have decided to start eating less meat. As a result I am experimenting with more vegan recipes and this is the first one I am happy enough to share! This is an easy recipe that is quickly becoming one of my favourite lunches to take into UNI with me. The Quinoa and Chickpeas giving you a nice bit of protein while giving you plenty of carbs to help you stay full for the afternoon lull.12748334_1670381486548890_807230742_n

Ingredients:

  • 1 small sweet potato (100-150g)
  • A handful of kale
  • 40g uncooked quinoa
  • 200g can of chickpeas
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Sprinkling of onion salt
  • 1tsp coconut oil

Method: 

  • Cut up the sweet potato into small pieces, and spray with some cooking oil. Roast the pieces in the oven at 180 degrees for around 10-15 minutes (until softened and browning).
  • Cook the Quinoa on the hob, following instructions on the packet (should take around 10-15 minutes).
  • In the meantime, fry the chickpeas and kale with some coconut oil for a few minutes.
  • Then when the quinoa and sweet potato are finished cooking, add them to the pan and mix everything together.
  • Then add the paprika, turmeric and onion salt and mix again. Then you are finished!
  • Simply put it in an air-tight tupperware and take it into UNI or work!

Hope you like it! If you make it, make sure to tag me in your creations on instagram using @whygowithout and #whygowithout so I can see them. Happy cooking!

The Cheeseburger Footprint

 

Last year, one of my best friends went Vegan. At first I was worried, what was her intention? Was she trying to lose weight? Then I actually asked her, and was very interested by her answer.

It’s safe to say that until last year, I didn’t quite realise quite how bad meat consumption is for the environment. Nor, did I know that this was a lot of people’s motivations for going Vegan. My friend gave me a short lesson into why we should all be eating less meat, or preferably no meat and I was left with the information resonating in my mind for a while. Eating meat is a huge burden on the environment; the average cheeseburger consumption in America (1-3 a week) has the same carbon footprint as 6.5 to 19.6 million SUVs. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) also estimates that meat consumption is one of the two or three most significant contributors to local and global environmental issues. Is this cheeseburger footprint really worth it?

Last week I decided to limit my meat intake to three to four portions of meat per week (i.e. one packet of sainsbury chicken breast or beef mince). A lot of people may read this and think this is still a lot of meat, but when you think about how much impact each serving has on the environment, cutting down from seven to three is a good start.

Because I am already dairy-free I have started to experiment with a lot of vegan recipes that make great packed lunches. I will post some of my favourites over the next few weeks to help people who may be inspired to go meat free more often, make some delicious foods.

Also even though I did not choose to be dairy-free, the more I read about the dairy industry, the more I’m glad I can’t eat it. It’s worth taking a look online at some articles which explain how your milks and cheeses make it to your fridge and you may decide to opt for an alternative (almond milk is a winner).

So really, this post is just to get everyone thinking about what impact their diets may have on the world around them. By all means, eat what you want and enjoy iIMG_2570t but maybe just try to go meat free at least one or two days a week? It will also help save you a nice bit of
money!

Look out for some blog posts to come with some great Vegan recipes and make sure to visit my instagram @whygowithout for some inspiration! Also there is a nice selection of Vegan recipes (like the delicious Nutella cookies pictured here) in my Ebook which you can get by clicking here.

Chocolate Protein Pancakes

So it’s pancake day today! So here is a recipe for one of my favourite pancakes:

Ingredients:

  • 15g chocolate soy protein isolate (from myprotein)IMG_1223
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 small/medium banana, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of almond milk
  • 1tsp coconut oil

Method:

  • Mix all of the ingredients together with a whisk or a fork.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a pan.
  • Pour the mixture into the pan (in a large pan this will make one large, thick pancake).
  • Leave it on the pan for 1 minute and then flip the pancake and cook it for a further 40-50s. If you have trouble flipping it, you can always place it under the grill for a minute instead!

Enjoy!

Healthy on a student budget: Quorn Chicken Curry

A lot of people may see this and think ‘Quorn… gross’. However, I guarantee that this is delicious. I used to be Pescatarian (involuntarily as I was allergic to all animal protein besides fish and egg whites until I was 8), so Quorn was a huge part of my diet as it’s a great way to get a healthy dose of protein. Unfortunately for vegans, not all Quorn products are suitable for your diet as a lot contain egg whites. Either way I would say for those non-vegans out there, it is definitely worth a go, you can learn to love it as a nice alternative from meat now and again.IMG_2774

This dish is also very simple to make and should only take about 20-25 minutes including both prep and cooking. It is a relatively low fat dish and as Quorn is lower calorie than chicken… you can have even more of it.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 350g Quorn chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 1tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Large green pepper (or any colour of your choice!)
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 1/2 jar of Sainsbury’s Red Thai curry paste (this one is dairy free)
  • Half a cup of coconut milk
  • 57g Sainsburys basmati white rice (uncooked)

Method:

  • First cut up your onion and pepper and put aside.
  • Then fry the onion in the coconut oil until the onion goes slightly see-through and then add in the Quorn chicken.
  • Fry for about 5 minutes and add in the peas. Allow them to defrost in the pan.
  • Then start to cook your rice according to the instructions on the packet.
  • Add in the curry paste to your dish along with the coconut milk and fry for a further few minutes.
  • When it looks like the ingredients are cooked (which they should be by now), add in the pepper – if you prefer your pepper to be soft you can add it in earlier, or leave it to cook for longer. However I prefer it to be a bit crunchier so I will only fry it with the rest of the ingredients for a few minutes at most.
  • Both your curry and your rice should then be done! Enjoy!

All in all this meal is very cheap to make and I normally save one portion for the next day. Hope you like it and if you do and you make it then let me know on instagram by tagging us and using the #whygowithout hashtag.

My Self Proclaimed Bake off Challenge: Week 6

Did anyone else enjoy last week as much as me!? I really wanted to try those dairy free ice creams, the closest I’ve come to finding one that tastes like normal ice-cream is by Almond Dream – definitely worth a try.

So this week is pasIMG_2659try week. I was slightly scared about this one… how on earth could I make a ‘healthy’ pastry without butter?! I started off by experimenting and attempting to make a healthy cinnamon roll. The picture makes it clear that this was definitely my most unsuccessful experiment to date…

That is when I realised that all pastry isn’t good for you, so why was I trying to make a ‘healthy pastry’ when this is nearly impossible? This lead me to make a raw treat which I’ve called Cinnamon Balls. They are super easy to make and I can’t wait to see some of you try them when I release the recipe in my Ebook in october. My family have said they have ‘just the right amount of cinnamon’ which I was very proud of so hopefully you will like them too.

Here a picture of them to get your mouth watering! They are honestly so delicious!
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Cinnamon & Pecan Granola

If you follow us on Instagram you will see a lot of our home made granola. Shop bought granola is fully of nasties, often high in both sugar and fat – not what you want to top your yoghurt with. So here is our clean granola recipe. Everyone in the family loves it and everyone you live with will love the smell it makes in the kitchen when its being made!IMG_2471

Ingredients:

  • 150g gluten free whole rolled oats
  • 100g whole pecans (or any other nuts you might fancy!)
  • 50g dried cranberries (golden berries or raisins will do too)
  • 5 tbsp of sweet freedom dark syrup (male syrup or agave will do too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or more if you love cinnamon as much as we do!)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Method:

You will need one large mixing bowl, a wooden spoon and either a Tefal air fryer or two flat baking trays and an air tight container.

In the Air Fryer:

  • Mix all the ingredients except the dried fruit in a bowl.
  • Put it all into the Tefal Air Fryer. Cook for 7 minutes in the Air Fryer.
  • Then add the dried fruit and if cooking in the air fryer and cook for a further minute.
  • Leave to cool slightly then transfer to a storage container. When completely cool secure the lid and give it all a good shake. It will keep for around a week.

In the Oven:

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Put into two flat baking trays and make sure its compact by pressing together.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius (fan assisted).
  • Leave to cool slightly and then transfer into storage container. When completely cool secure the lid and give it a good shake. It will keep for around a week.

Enjoy! If you do make it let us know by tagging us on instagram @whygowithout.

My Self Proclaimed Bake Off Challenge: Week 5

So I, along with many others I’m sure, was thrilled to hear that this week bake off are doing an ‘alternative ingredients’ week. So no dairy, sugar or gluten. YAY! Finally, a week where I can watch the contestants struggle as much as I do to create delicious baked goods which are dairy free with sugar alternatives and aIMG_2570 lot of the time which contain zero gluten. I’m so excited to see what they come up with.

Here’s what I came up with this week: Nutella Cookies – dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free. And to top it all off they are also vegan friendly.

The recipe will be available in my Ebook which will be released in October. It was definitely a winner and the whole batch went as soon as I brought them to a friends house. I can’t wait for you all to try them.

Here are my top tips for baking with alternative ingredients:

  1. Apple sauce makes for a great replacement for butter, as well as adding sweetness meaning you can use less sugar in the recipe (however be careful to keep the same consistency).
  2. From my experience, self raising gluten free flour does not work! You are much better off using a normal gluten free flour (my favourite is buckwheat) and adding a teaspoon of baking powder per 100g to make it self raising.
  3. Bananas always do wonders in cakes where you are missing butter – they help make it moist and lovely. But be careful not to lose the flavour of the rest of your ingredients by adding in a banana as replacement. Banana bread is wonderful but not when it’s everything you bake!
  4. Maple syrup and agave syrup do make lovely cakes, cookies, cupcakes etc but you may need to add in some ground nuts or more flour so that the mixture is not too loose.
  5. Dates. They really help to naturally sweeten a bake (when well blended and mixed into the mix) – using dates however will take some trial and error as it changes the consistency a lot and you may have to change up a lot of quantities. Practice makes perfect!
  6. Try the batter. Even though some times I end up eating a bit too much, it really does help you get a feel for the recipe and if you need more sweetener or chocolate etc.

Good luck and get baking!!