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!

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!

New Years Resolutions

So it’s that time of year again where lots of people have already started to give up on goals and aims they have set themselves on the 31st of January which will make the new year, ‘better’ and ‘more successful’ than the previous. It is very difficult to keep the motivation you felt oh-so-strongly on that optimistic evening when you wrote them down, told your friends and family, and assured yourself that this year would be different.

Over the last year I have learnt so much more about fitness and health and general life hacks that help me keep motivation and more importantly, keep me happy. My number one tip to all of you who think you won’t be able to keep up with your resolutions is this: A slip up doesn’t mean you’ve lost.

At Uni, I always get people asking me the following questions: Where do you find the time to go to the gym? Do you always cook and eat like that? Where do you get the motivation from? The truth is my food isn’t always pretty, and some days I really don’t want to go the gym, so I don’t. The last year has taught me to do what makes me happy, and not to dwell on the things that don’t. Some days I won’t have the perfect diet, but this doesn’t mean that tomorrow I won’t, and the next day. In order to achieve your resolutions, whether it is reading more (one of mine) or trying to get healthy, you can’t take one bad day as a failure.

Looking at your goals as long-term achievements is far better for your mental wellbeing and day-to-day mentality. Because in reality, big changes won’t happen over a year. It will take  years of practice to allow me to always make sure I focus on the things that make me happy, and this last year has been a vital to me achieving this. Just because I may not always make the right decision now, doesn’t mean I won’t in the future. So even though you might feel like there is no point in you staying vegetarian/vegan, or going to the gym more, or reading more, or keeping up with politics, or walking the dog more, cooking more, cleaning more, buying fewer clothes, listening to more music, spending more time with family and friends etc, just because the last few weeks haven’t been successful, just sit down and think to yourself – What will make me happy today? And do it. Showing yourself you can stick to your goals makes you feel amazing I can guarantee you, but if one of these goals doesn’t contribute to your happiness is it really worth it?

So all in all – Let’s make 2016 the happiest year yet.

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.

Healthy on a student budget: Egg fried rice

Coming back to University this year I’ve already started struggling with how to stay healthy on a student budget. Admittedly, I do spend more on food than the average student… but that’s just because of this blog and the fact dairy alternatives are that much more expensive. I have some quick and easy key meals which help me to stay on track after a busy day at UNI that keep the price down, so I thought I’d give a few ideas to help those who are struggling. This week is egg fried rice

Eggs are my staple food. I buy a pack of 12-15 at the beginning of the week and I normally get through them all by the end. There are so many things you can make with them. Protein pancakes, egg fried rice, they can be scrambled, boiled, poached etc and the list goes on. They are so cheap and provide you with lots of crucial nutrients, giving you a nice serving of healthy fats and protein.

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Egg fried rice is very filling, cheap and easy to make which most people are surprised about. I will normally serve mine with some chicken to add some more protein to the dish. Here’s how I make it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil/olive oil
  • 1 medium egg
  • 3 Spring onions
  • 50g baby button mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 50g frozen peas
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

  • Boil the rice (following the serving suggestion and instructions on the packet). Lots
    of people think you have to eat brown rice if you want it to be ‘healthy’, but white rice is great too! And if you have a high fibre diet like me, its best to try to limit fibre in places you can, so I always eat white rice (it also cooks much faster).
  • In the mean time chop up the spring onions and mushrooms and put aside.
  • Get a pan and pour some oil onto it. Heat it up and then add the frozen peas.
    When the peas start to change colour, and look as if they are defrosted, add the spring onions and mushrooms and fry them for a few minutes.
  • By this point, the rice should be nearly done. Try a bit to make sure it is cooked to your taste. When it is ready add it to the pan.
  • Fry together for less than a minute and then crack the egg into the pan and with a wooden spoon stir quickly. The egg will start to scramble in the rice and veg.
  • When the egg looks like it is evenly distributed and cooked, add the soy sauce and season with some salt and pepper and stir more.
  • You’re dinner is ready! Serve with chicken or fish for a protein packed meal.