How to stay healthy at Christmas

Christmas is around the corner which means a lot of delicious and indulgent food to look forward to. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE this time of year and can’t wait to tuck in to my Mum’s roast dinners and all the chocolate and cake that is bound to be on offer. I think it’s completely healthy to indulge at Christmas and if you’re going to relax and enjoy yourself at some point in the year, then this is a really perfect opportunity!

The one thing I don’t want, however, is to eat so much food that I feel awful for the entire festive period. Over the past year or so I have become much more interested in my health and fitness, and I have learned how good my body can feel when fuelled with nutritious, healthy food. (This is something I plan to blog more about in the future).

Anyway, I am visiting my family this week and the ‘bad food’ temptations started as soon as I entered the door! Despite making a promise to myself that I will enjoy the festive period without worrying too much about food, I want to do some ‘damage limitation’ so to speak. Therefore I have come up with a few tips of how we can all enjoy Christmas but also keep on track and keep feeling good over the next couple of weeks:

  • Starting Christmas day with a good breakfast will set you up for a day of treats and make you feel better about eating what you want later on. Have some eggs with smoked salmon, or grilled bacon with spinach and tomatoes – still delicious, filling and full of good fats and protein.
  •  Try to eat relatively healthily during the days running up to Christmas and the ones after. Again this will make you feeling better about indulging on the day and keep you feeling good throughout.
  • Save the treats for when you really want them. Don’t eat 3 mince pies in a row just because you can. Eat one when you really fancy it – trust me, treats you wait for are the ones you tend to enjoy the most!
  • Keep up the exercise! 2 weeks away from your usual routine doesn’t have to mean 2 weeks of sitting on the sofa. Find a local gym which offer a pay-as-you-go option – this is what I plan to do whilst staying with my parents. If this isn’t possible or if the gym is closed, why not try some home workouts or go for a walk or a run to get your body moving.
  • Stay hydrated. Again, a few days or weeks outside of your normal routine can make you forget how important it is to drink enough water, so keep a bottle with you and try to keep up with your recommended intake.
  • Finally, take time for yourself and relax. After all, this is the time of year when we should take a break from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy some time with our friends and family. So do exactly that! Christmas day is one day of the year where worrying about what you eat is NOT allowed. It’s a day of roast potatoes, pigs in blankets and all the chocolate you can eat.

Have a Merry Christmas everybody!

 

 

Blueberry and Coconut Loaf

blueberry loaf

 

Now everyone loves a good slice of cake, but sometimes it’s hard to indulge when you’re trying to be good and watch what you eat. So, I spent my Friday evening experimenting in the kitchen on a mission to bake a guilt-free but equally delicious cakey treat, and this is what I came up with – a Blueberry and Coconut loaf!

Blueberries are super food and there are endless benefits to making sure they are a staple in your diet. As a thin-skinned dark berry, they are lower in fructose (fruit sugar) than many other types of fruit. They are also a rich source of antioxidants and are high in vitamin C which strengthens the immune system, helping to protect the body against illness.

Coconut is an excellent source of fat and is thought to reduce our urge to eat something sweet – the healthy fat in coconut slows down any rise in blood sugar and helps to reduce hyperglycaemic cravings.

This recipe also happens to be gluten and dairy free, so great for those of you who might have intolerances!

Ingredients:

1 cup oats
1 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup natural sweetener (I used Xlylitol but honey could also work well)
3/4 cup almond or coconut milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 scoop whey protein (optional – great if you want to higher the protein content)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3-4 eggs
1 cup frozen blueberries

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 200c

2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl

3. Once fully combined, pour mixture into a loaf tin (which I had slightly greased with some coconut oil) and put in the oven for about 30-40 mins or until your knife comes out clean when testing.

4. Let cool, then slice up and serve! I even added a spoonful of peanut butter to mine for an extra treat – delicious!

Raw Carrot Cake

carrotcake

 

Carrot Cake is definitely one of my favourite cakes of all time – the delicious mixture of carrots, cinnamon and spices, combined with its soft, squidgy texture is just amazing. However, we can’t go eating carrot cake all day long so here is a great healthy and completely raw alternative – so there’s no worrying about burning anything! This is adapted from Madeline Shaw’s recipe (http://madeleineshaw.com/) – her website is full of amazing home made recipes and healthy lifestyle tips – I definitely recommend checking it out!

This raw carrot cake is completely guilt free and all you need is a food processor/blender, a cake tin and a freezer – could it be any simpler? It has a cashew-nut icing to give it an extra creamy taste and cashews are in fact extremely nutritious. They are a rich source of copper – an essential component of many enzymes which plays a role in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin. It is also important in energy production and antioxidant defences – so go nuts about cashews!
Carrots are also high in vitamin A and anti-oxidants which help to keep your skin hair and nails healthy, and dried apricots are an excellent source of dietary fibre and are rich in potassium, which is great for maintaining healthy blood pressure.

These whole foods are extremely nourishing as well as deliciously tasty, so why not give this recipe a go and see what you think!

Ingredients:
Base:

  • 100g of dried apricots
  • 150g of grated carrot
  • 2 tbsp of honey (argave nectar would also work)
  • 30g of coconut oil
  • 100g of desiccated coconut
  • 60g of cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of ginger (could also add nutmeg)
  • 40g walnuts (optional – I love walnuts in carrot cake so thought they would go nicely in this too!)

Frosting:

  • 100g of cashews nuts
  • 50ml of nut milk (almond or coconut)

Method:

  1. For the base:
    Grease a small cake tin/baking tray with coconut oil.
  2. Put the nuts and apricots into a food processor until mixed together nicely.
  3. Add the desiccated coconut, spices, honey and coconut oil and blend.
  4. Break up the walnuts into smaller pieces and fold in along with the grated carrot. Then scoop mixture into the baking tray, flattening it out evenly.
  5. For the topping:
    In the (now empty) food processor, blend the second batch of cashews and nut milk until it is as smooth as possible. Then spread this over the top of the carrot mix and pop in the freezer for approximately an hour.
  6. Remove cake from freezer and cut them into potions (I got about 8 slices out of a small cake tin).
  7. Store in the fridge and enjoy!

Sweet potato chocolate brownies!

image-1

Here is a recipe which is quick, simple and most definitely helps to satisfy your sweet tooth. I love baking healthy treats which you can pack in your lunch box or sit down with a cuppa and enjoy. I found a few sweet potato brownie recipes on the internet and adapted them according to what I had in my cupboard, so feel free to take this as a base and create your own variations! Sweet potatoes are a great, nutritious carbohydrate source – they are rich in fibre and full of vitamins and minerals, making them a healthy-living must have.

Ingredients: 

1 medium sized sweet potato
1 tbsp nut milk (I like almond or coconut but normal milk could also be used)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4-6 squares of dark chocolate (70% and above)
2 tbsp natural sweetener (such as Stevia or Xylitol)
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup ground almonds (coconut flour is an alternative)
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 scoop whey protein powder (optional for a high-protein snack)
Handful of nuts/chocolate chips (depending on preference)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Peel and boil the sweet potato until soft. Once cooked, drain off excess water and add the milk. Mash potato until smooth.

3. Add coconut oil and eggs to the potato and mix.

4. Add dry ingredients (cocoa, sweetener, ground almonds, baking powder, protein powder) and mix.

5. Melt 2-3 of the dark chocolate squares in microwave or by using a bain-marie and stir into mixture.

6. Add in nuts/chocolate chips  etc (sometimes I break up another square of dark chocolate if I don’t have any chocolate chips to hand).

7. Pour into a loaf tin or any medium-sized cake baking tray.

8. Bake for 20-25 mins, or until cake is cooked all the way through (you can test this by sticking a knife in it and if it comes out clean then it’s probably done!). Then leave to cool on a wire rack.

9. Melt the remaining 2-3 dark chocolate squares and drizzle over the top of the cake for an extra-indulgent chocolatey taste. Let chocolate cool.

10. Cut up into snack-sized potions (I get about 8 slices from one loaf-tin). Finally, enjoy!