Perfect exercise and a quinoa, peanut butter, hemp, chia seed protein bar

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Right, the search for the exercise or combination of exercises that will make me feel the best, physically and mentally has started. I will try on a monthly basis all kinds of normal and not so normal ways of get my body moving. Then I will evaluate them. You know, as a fun experiment that you can do on yourself. I have started with something that I’m quite familiar with, the gym. A bit boring I know but a really great deal came up and I thought picking something familiar can be a good way to get back into doing some exercise. Maybe I’m just a creature of habit…..
Next on the list is bikram (hot) yoga, again another great deal, and after that some personal training thanks to a dear friend who very kindly passed on some sessions that she can’t use.

Things I also want to try are dance (salsa, flamenco and old school jazz dance), recliner Pilates, running (if my knees are up for it) and various kinds of non-hot yoga. I’m sure I will think of some more fun ways of getting fit and if anyone has something to recommend please leave a comment below.

Evaluation categories will be as follows;

How much have my spirits lifted ( do I feel on top of the world? )
How happy do my muscles feel (stretched, no pain, stronger etc)
How calm and at peace do I feel
How happy does it make me feel
How clean and refreshed do I feel
Fitness and cardio levels

I will post the evaluation of my gym sessions by the end of this week.

After one of my visits to the gym this week I was in the need of something to eat. My muscles and body felt tired and stomach screamed feed me so I thought about getting a protein bar to give my muscles something to feel better. Until I read the ingredients list…….seriously, do we go to the gym to get fitter and healthier or to get unwell? It’s like; Great you have done a fantastic workout to make yourself healthier. Now, stuff some rubbish into yourself because too much of this healthy stuff can be bad for you…….honestly!

Anyhow I decided to make my own protein bars and stay away from 15 types of sugars and sweeteners and e-numbers and milk and gluten and fillers and flavourings and whatnot. And it is so easy to make your own. Then I know I’m giving my body some really good healthy nutrient filled protein rather than just a lot of rubbish. These bars contains appx 9g of protein and appx 225 of calories. They are lower in protein than the standard gym bars but since I’m not a body builder and not currently doing really hard exercise I don’t feel I need more. If you feel you need more protein just add a scoop or two of some whey protein powder.

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Quinoa, dates, hemp seeds, chia seeds, peanut butter, cacao powder

10 bars

1/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup of water
10 pitted dates
1/2 cup cashews or almonds
6 tablespoons of peanut butter (no added sugar)
4 tablespoon of Chia seeds
4 tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds

Soak the chia seeds in 3 tablespoons of water. Rinse the quinoa. Add the drained quinoa to a saucepan with 2/3 of a cup of water. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and cook covered for 15 min. Take it off the heat and let it stand covered for 5 min.

In the meantime add the remaining ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth-ish consistency. Add the quinoa and blend for another couple of minutes. Add to a 30x20cm pan and flatten it out with your fingers or a spatula. Put in fridge until cool. Cut into 10 pieces. Wrap individually in baking paper, pop in freezer and when you’re going for some exercise bring one along and it will defrost during your workout.

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5 healthy tips if you don’t have time to be healthy

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If you really are super super super busy or you feel as if you are (sometimes we feel as if we don’t have time to be healthy but it might just be that we are not juggling our demands correctly, I’m certainly good at doing that) Firstly I would say look at your life and check if there’s some tweaking you can do in order to have more time to be healthier. If you really have no spare time there are still some small things that you can do that will help.

1. Swop a coffee for a vegetable juice

With living a busy life usually comes a lot of eating and drinking on the go. Try swooping one coffee a day (or more) for a fresh vegetable juice. In a big city such as London there are lots of juice bars around, otherwise a container of juice will also work (not as well but hey, better than a coffee) In a fresh vegetable juice there are tons of macronutrients. Getting the goodies from 2 carrots, 1 beetroot, 2 apples, 2 stalks of celery and 1 cube of ginger (for example) in one go is a good thing….and gives you way more energy than a coffee.

2. Set the timer for 10 min

If you feel overwhelmed because you have sooo many things to do and you don’t know where to start, set the timer for 10 min and just start doing whatever first comes to mind. When the timer is up you can have a break or stop but I find that I just keep going because I have the momentum going and the I-don’t-know-where-to-start-freeze has been broken.


3. Think positive thoughts

It doesn’t take more time to think happy, positive thoughts than negative ones but it’s a great way to better health and happiness. I found it very easy to only think positive thoughts when I was faced with Multiple Sclerosis since I knew I had to if I wanted to stay well. But on a day to day basis it’s more tricky but something well worth working on. Try to pay attention to your thoughts. Are they mainly positive or negative? If negative try to change them to positive ones.

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought” Peace Pilgrim


4. Do the items on the to do list that you really don’t want to do straight away

I’m an expert in leaving the have-to-do-but-really-don’t-want-to-do items until last minute. Which really is a huge waste of energy, they them become “clouds” hanging over you and every minute that they are hanging over you is not good for stress levels hence bad for your health.

5. Swop afternoon cake, crisps or chocolate for nuts, seeds and fruit

Again it’s easy when the afternoon slump after too much coffee kicks in to reach for a-pick-me-upper that would do nothing beneficial for your health. As often as possible go for some nuts, fruit, seeds and dried fruit

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Mind over medicine and beetroot chips!

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I have a lot of things buzzing in my head that I want to write about! B12, mobile free time, exclusion diet (and it’s not a loose-weight-diet), toxins…….

But I will start with talking about a TED talk that I watched the other night with an American doctor called Lissa Rankin and it truly and utterly resonated with me. ( I cried watching it, that’s how good I thought it was)

I know I go on and on about healthy food and believe me I do believe it is crucial. But Dr Rankin says that healing the mind is more important than looking after our bodies. And despite being a health-food-crazy-kinda-girl I do agree with her. If we are unhappy, stressed or disconnected, all the organic broccoli in the world won’t cure us!

Dr Rankin says that our bodies will try to tell us if there is something in our lives that needs to be changed. In the beginning it will be “whispers” as she calls them, a constant stream of small health problems. If we then don’t listen, the whispers will turn into “screams”, more serious health problems. In my case the whispers were constant colds and flus, a sore swollen stomach and difficulties sleeping and winding down. But I was too busy to listen to the whispers so they turned into screams; anxiety and panic attacks. Still didn’t listen so then my body had to resort to some serious yelling to get me to listen; my MS diagnosis. And who knows, if I had listened to my body and left my job earlier perhaps I wouldn’t have MS today?

The good thing is, she thinks we can use our minds to let our bodies self-heal. And again I agree. When I told you about my MS story I was talking about how I used the placebo effect to heal my body and I strongly believe it had a huge amount to do with my healing.
But anyway, I’m not going to tell you more (drum rolls)……..I hereby proudly present Dr Lissa Rankin!

The shocking truth about your health; Lissa Rankin

Even if you’re a sceptic I really really recommend watching this 18 min video. It might not resonate with you right now but if you one day (we really hope not) find yourself having small, constant health issues, perhaps you will then remember this video. And you will stop to think, am I happy in my life or is it something that needs to change in order for my health problems to go away…..and the 18 minutes of watching the video seems like nothing. Kind of a cheap and good health insurance right?
If the video speaks to you you can download a free self-healing kit from her website or you can always buy the book ; )

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I said I was going to tell you all how I have been doing with exercise this week. Well, I did 1h45 min spread out over 4 days. Then I had my lumbar puncture ( I’m getting to the bottom of the do-I-do-I-not-have-MS conundrum) and my back was pretty bad for the weekend so no more. But anyway a great start, me thinks! ( I also bought a gym deal so for 5 weeks I have to go at least twice a week! Yeah, I’m soooo looking forward to it! )

And here’s finally the recipe for the beetroot chips that goes together with the last posts guacamole!

Beetroot chips!

Snack for 2

2 large beetroots
1 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste

Heat to oven to 150 °C.
Use a mandolin to slice the beetroot very thinly. About 1mm. I tried to cut the beetroot with a knife but it really takes a lot of effort and time so I would recommend getting a mandolin if you don’t have one. Put the beetroot slices in a bowl. Melt the coconut oil in a pan and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the beetroot making sure all slices are covered with the oil.

Line a couple of large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Lay them on the paper so they are barely touching. Put in oven for 1 hour, one will go higher up than the other but swop the trays around halfway through so they will be equally cooked. The beetroot will crisp up after they have cooled down.

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My Multiple Sclerosis (MS) story- part 2 Healing and Recovery

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This is the part of the story where I’m going to tell you about my road to recovery. It’s a tricky part because I don’t want to give the impression that I have found a magical, one-size-fits all cure to MS..because I haven’t. I have found what works really well….for me. Nor do I want to give the impression that I’m Mrs super-fit who is never tired, never has a sore back or never ever has any health problems. I’m just like any regular person who does get worn out if I push myself too hard and who struggles to find time to do exercise….But hey that’s pretty good….being just like anyone else, given that 6 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was faced with a very uncertain future in regards to my health……

So after I had been diagnosed I had a couple of days or a week of feeling terribly sorry for myself ( I most likely scoffed one or two or three tubs of Ben & Jerry’s during those days ) Then I guess I found some sort of fighting spirit within me and I quite firmly decided no, I’m not going to let this thing beat me, no way, no way, no way!
The neurologist very kindly offered me disease modifying drugs and steroids. ( yes I’m being slightly sarcastic by using the word kindly) Since I had already started to read about nutrition and a more holistic view on health I strongly believed that there was a different path to stroll down rather than using conventional medicine. I felt fairly certain that medicines wouldn’t “fix” my body since I instinctively felt that I was “broken” because of stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. The last thing on earth I wanted to do was to put more toxins into my body. And anyway, the medicines would just give me a 30% chance of having less episodes but had exactly the same side effects as the illness. Seemed absurd to me.

So I declined their very kind offer and started on my path as a healing detective : ) I was reading anything I could find about MS and holistic treatments. Found lots of stories of people who got better and started to connect the dots between them. Vitamin D, B12, eating minimal saturated fats, a positive mindset, eating lots of vegetables, meditation, exercise, getting rid of toxins in your body, staying away from processed food. I also started to find lots of stuff that seemed really relevant to my own health.

For example if the thyroid gland has been under stress for a long period it can start attacking it’s own healthy cells…ok, sounds like MS and is true for me, I certainly had been very stressed for a long time
B12 deficiency has almost identical symptoms to MS. And stress, alcohol and crap food depletes B12……umm….aha I see!

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Decided to see a nutritionist ( See details below ) who took some tests and as I suspected, my body was completely wrecked. My thyroids and adrenals were exhausted, my vitamin levels were all over the place. I tested intolerant to several types of food. She also suspected I had candida and leaky gut. And after quite a bit of convincing I went on a 3 month candida diet with added extras (as if the candida diet isn’t strict enough ; ) no sugar, no fruit, no alcohol, no dairy, no meat, no coffee, no rice, no peas, no wheat, no soya, no yeast, no citric acid….the list goes on! The first week was diabolical, seriously difficult to get out of bed. I felt awful. Really! But as the weeks progressed I started feeling……well pretty good. I stuck to the diet over Christmas and New Year’s Eve which was interesting to say the least but in the end of the day what is one Christmas amongst many if I could have my health back.

I also tried to get rid of as many toxins as possible so started using deodorant without aluminium, shampoo and shower gel without parabens and other toxins, toothpaste without SLS, stopped colouring my hair, used cleaning products without toxins, natural make-up, ate organic vegetables etc etc. I even started making my own paraffin free candles. It’s unbelievable
how many toxins we get into ourselves on a daily basis!
No wonder the body has little capacity left to fight illnesses.

I continued to work really hard on continuing the mindset I was thought through CBT, searching for the positive rather than the negative. So for example when going to the gym and looking in the mirror instead of screaming I haaaaaate my varicous veins I smiled and thought this is an amazing body because it is healthy, it has legs that can walk, it doesn’t hurt and it can lift heavy weights ( I went back to bodypump shortly after having been diagnosed using tiny tiny tiny weights in the beginning)

I tried a lot of other alternative treatments, reflexology which is amazing and I still do sometimes ( see details below) I tried bee pollen, visualisations, meditation, the placebo effect….you name it.

And how did it all go. Well 6 1/2 years later and I still haven’t had another episode and I’m not in the slightest bothered by my MS. The doctors think I am lucky. I think I am lucky that I listened to my inner voice that told me to go down an alternative route and refused the medicine. ( please note I’m not recommending to anyone to not take their medicines, this is my story and this is what felt right and worked for me ) I honestly believe that my body was imbalanced and toxic and that I needed to get it back into balance. I don’t dare to think about how I would feel today if I had taken the medicine and hadn’t changed my life style (which my then GP suggested)

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So what things would I recommend for a person who has recently been diagnosed with MS? Like I said before, I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution. Every individual should look at their own life and ask, what’s not working really well? Using lots of toxins at work, is that part of what’s making you ill? Lots of amalgam fillings in your teeth? Is removing them part of the solution? Is there a part of your life that you are unhappy and stressed about, partner, work? Are you eating food that damages your body rather than foods that will help your body to heal? And so on and so forth. You get my drift.


For me my way to recovery was definitely a combination of many things.

Seeing a nutritionist who looked at me as a whole and who could take tests that showed imbalances in my body and helped me correct them. Super important!

The 3 month diet, definitely! It allowed my body to have a long break where it fully could concentrate on healing, our own bodies have a great healing capacity if we just let them.

B12 is of mayor importance, the only time I have felt slightly unwell was when I stopped taking it. I am taking 400 micrograms of sublingual powder every day. And B12 is a water soluble vitamin so there’s no harm in taking large doses to see if it makes a difference. It’s important that it’s sublingual powder, shoots or patches since it appears to me that a lot of people with MS has difficulties taking in b12 from food or tablets.

Changing my diet was of paramount importance. I now eat a plant based diet (some raw and some cooked) I don’t eat a lot of meat and I rarely eat butter or cream. I try to stay away from wheat and sugar as much as possible and I eat mainly organic food. Processed food is a rare event. It may sound strict and boring but it most definitely isn’t.

Waving bye bye to as many toxins as possible is significant ( while writing this I realise that I have let some toxins back into my life so time to get a grip…)

Exercise is of course really really really important. ( which I’m struggling to re-introduce in my life after the birth of my two kids…..time, I neeeeeeed more time ; ) Even if you have just been diagnosed with MS there are always some exercise that you can do. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of stretching!

The placebo effect or the mind is a powerful tool. I read a lot about using your mind to think yourself well and I am going to use a quote by Henry Ford that I find explains it. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right” I believe this statement is true for the healing process. ( And no I don’t think you can heal a broken bone with the power of your mind ; ) In the beginning when I was diagnosed my husband sometimes wanted to talk about the future and the conversations went something like this;
Him; Let’s say you would get another relapse
Me: But I won’t
Him: but let’s just say you would
Me: But I won’t
Him: ok but let’s just say for arguments sake that you would
Me: hmmmmm…..ok…….but as long as you understand that I won’t.
Him: ok so let’s say you would have another episode
Me: but I won’t

Needless to say these discussions could take aaaaaalll night. What I was doing was using the placebo effect to heal myself hence not allowing me to doubt for a second that I would get better. Denial it might sound like to some but it has been proven that if we really believe something is going to make us better, there will actually be measurable positive changes in our bodies. Here’s an interesting study conducted at Harvard. The placebo effect has long been accepted as something that works by conventional medicine but they are still baffled about how it works, and how to use it.
I also used visualisations where I visualised the scars in my brain healing and disappearing. Visualisations also have been proved to have real effects on our bodies.

My dream is that one day a holistic approach using nutrition and lifestyle assessment would be the first call for treatment and that medicines would be the last option. I don’t think that the “there’s a pill for all ills” mentality works. In fact these days we take more pills than ever but many illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease are on the increase.
Ideally it would be no need for hospitals but hey I’m a dreamer, not completely crazy ; )
Don’t get me wrong, there has been some incredible advances when it comes to traditional medicine. Surgery of today is unbelievably good. But seeing the individual a a whole needs to become standard.

I also dream we will have healthcare where there’s a choice! You want to use medicine and operations? Fine we support you wholeheartedly. You want to use nutrition and exercise? Absolutely, we support you wholeheartedly. Currently this is definitely not the case. The medicines that I was offered and declined would have cost the NHS £8000 per year. Was I offered any support for vitamins, seeing a nutritionist or exercise? Nope, I don’t think so, not a penny!

The most important lesson that I have learnt from my MS story is, do your research!!! Very few people goes to buy a car without having done any research about pros and cons of what’s out there. Yet when it comes to our own health we take the doctors word for that what they are offering is the best remedy (this also goes for if you are seeing a nutritionist, naturopath or healer) Don’t take anyone’s word for what’s the best remedy. Keep an open mind and listen to what people have to say but do your research!

Nutritionist, I saw Annie McRae who has now relocated to California to be closer to her sons. (Lucky California) She does skype consultations so if you are struggling to find someone close to where you live, do contact her!

Reflexology, I am seeing Anna Lee at Shine on the Green who has magic hands! I always feel really good afterwards. And the great thing is that she can tell you if there is something wrong……..she told me there was something up with my teeth shortly after I had removed my wisdom tooth!

For recipe I picked another one with turmeric. This is a fantastic breakfast smoothie that was posted by Emily Ho on thekitchn.com. It’s perfect to prepare the night before and then you have your breakfast ready in the morning.

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Sunshine breakfast smoothie with coconut, clementines and turmeric

1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut water
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
Fresh or frozen segments from 2 (or 3 if they are small) clementines (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2-inch fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
1/2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maca powder

The original recipe called for honey it every since my post about sugar I’m trying to reduce my intake of sugar ( even natural ones)

If you are going to use frozen clementines prepare and put into freezer a couple of hours before. Then prepare the ginger and turmeric and put into blender. Add all other ingredients and blend until desired consistency. Enjoy!

My 10 favourite recipes from last year

So my white month started today , also my no sugar, no dairy and no gluten month. I know I only mentioned booze, the evil white stuff and dairy but what the heck if I’m going to be good I might as well be very good.
I’m probably also feeling inspired to be very good because I watched a fairly cheesy ( I cried a lot in the end ) but also very inspiring Australian/ American documentary last night called Fat, Sick & Nearly dead. It’s about a guy, Joe Cross, who goes on a 60 day juice fast to heal himself and take the one foot that he has in the grave out of the grave. He also meets another man with the same issues as himself. Can he convince him to start the fast as well? If you want some motivation for living a healthier life, this is a good film to watch.

Anyway, I have gone through the recipes that I wrote about on my blog last year to find out which ones do I keep coming back to over and over again! It always annoys me whenever tv-series do these episodes when the characters are just thinking back to things that has happened previously. I always get the feeling that the writers must have been very busy so they haven’t had time to write something new. And it’s sort of true for me as well, I have been very busy preparing for my meeting with the Neurologist tomorrow. I want to be armed to the teeth when I go there. But me being busy isn’t the only reason I have done a “10 favourite recipes” I also find it’s good to evaluate your year when it has come to an end so here we go;

My favourite 10

Peanut butter smoothie
This smoothie is fantastic! It’s a great combo of being that perfect healthy treat and a pre-sports drink, snack! It contains both short-term and long-term energy and is also quite filling. For me it has been more of a healthy treat but since I’m going to be doing more exercise this year……..

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Raw cacao, macadamia, goji and coconut balls
I’m hooked on these yummy little things. Full of anti-oxidants! They are lovely to eat straight out of the freezer so great to have handy if you are craving some chocolate.

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Roasted parsnip and garlic soup
My latest addition to my soup collection and I love it. It’s soo good for keeping those pesky flu-germs away given all the garlic. And delicious!

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Pineapple, ginger, chia seeds and coconut water smoothie
Refreshing and ideal before or after sports due to the coconut water. Also very good if your stomach is upset or as a hangover cure.

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Mozzarella, quinoa, peach, chilli and pomegranate salad
Haven’t made this in a while given how hard it is to find decent peaches this time of the year but it’s a great salad that I make lots of when good peaches are plentiful

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Macademia nut butter smoothie with mint dark chocolate covered macademia nuts
This is quite high in fat and calories so shouldn’t be eaten everyday but it’s a lovely, very nutritious and good for you treat. Waaaaay better for you than my old pals Ben & Jerry

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Fake sushi
A super nutritious and very easy way of making sushi.

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Beetroot goat cheese salad
Good enough to be eaten throughout the year. Perfect for lunch since beetroot is an energy booster

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Liquorice smoothie
A recipe from Ascension kitchen.com. Delicious and so good if you are feeling a bit stressed out

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Giving up coffee
Isn’t obviously a recipe but it’s one of the best things I did last year. Believe me next time I go to Sicily I won’t say no to that perfect espresso. But on a regular basis I feel more balanced, focused and calmer without it.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and raw ginger bread cookies

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….well not exactly outside here in London. We have blue sky and there are some red and orange colours still in the trees, it certainly feels more like autumn. It’s starting to look like Christmas at home and in my head, I’ve started to have this nice, warm, fuzzy feeling that I get around Christmas time. You see I’m one of those people who loves Christmas.

Lots of people get stressed around this time but me who normally has a tendency to get stressed, I actually don’t…..I figure whatever gets done gets done and what doesn’t doesn’t. Simple as that! For me Christmas is about spending some good quality time with your nearest and dearest, not a period of obligations.

This year we are keeping it very small, we figure it’s easier when the kids are still very young not to travel and just do lots of things locally and hang out just the four of us. I would have loved to go to Sweden to see my Dad and other family, but it will just be more relaxing this way. And I’m really looking forward to it.

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If you love Christmas you can easily get over excited. Which is good, getting over excited about something is a happy feeling and happiness is good for your health. A friend of mine got so excited she ended up buying 49 books for her daughter for Christmas ( the daughter is going to be one well-read little lady! ) Me I am getting super excited about ginger bread cookies but I don’t want to start too soon because once I start I can’t stop. And whilst being exited and happy is good for you, sugar is not and there’s certainly lots of it around during Christmas. So because I recently also got very exited about my raw cacao, macademia nut balls and ate quite a few of them I thought to myself……what if I could swop some ingredients, roll it out and make raw ginger bread cookies…and I could! This is like a mixture between eating the uncooked gingerbread dough and the cookies themselves but without the baddies and with plenty of goddies! Now that’s happiness for me!

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Raw gingerbread cookies

Makes 20 cookies

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves (not too much, cloves can be over powering)
1 cup of cashew nuts
1 cup of hazelnuts
2 cups of pitted dates
2 tablespoon acacia honey
1 tablespoon of water
Desiccated coconut to decorate

Add all ingredients apart from the water and the desiccated coconut.
Blend to required texture. I like it when it’s not too smooth, it gives it a bit of texture. If it’s to dry you can add a tiny bit of water but only a little bit at the time, if it gets too wet it’s impossible to roll out. Put the dough in fridge for an hour or so, then roll out until about 5mm thickness. Use your favourite Christmas dough cutter to cut out shapes. Decorate with desiccated coconut.
Don’t eat all the dough before you have made the cookies!!

In a positive limbo and raw cacao, macadamia, goji and coconut balls

20131128-205815.jpgIn a weird place at the moment. Decided that I’m going to try to get the doctors to see if I have been misdiagnosed with my MS. So at the moment in my head, I might have MS….or I might not, I might have MS ….or I might not…..you get the idea. It’s a cool thing though, for a couple of days I get to NOT have MS. In my head at least ; )

Not going to jabber on too much today, just get on with the recipe.
I tend to want to have something little to nibble on with my one a day decaf coffee. Nuts are sometimes a bit boring and a piece or two of dark chocolate….well there’s sugar in that. So here’s my super healthy raw cacao, nuts, goji and coconut balls. Also super easy to make!
20131128-205840.jpgI’m using Creative Nature superfoods cacao powder. They are cold pressing the raw cacao beans and hence preserving as many of the antioxidants and other goodies as possible. Apparently 400% higher in antioxidants than the standard roasted cacao powder according to ORAC testing ( oxygen radical absorbance capacity ) Impressive!
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Raw cacao, macadamia nuts, dates and coconut balls

24 balls

6 tablespoons raw cacao
2/3 cup macadamia nuts
1 & 1/3 cup cashew nuts
2 cups pitted dates
2 tablespoons agave syrup
4 tablespoons of goji berries
3-4 tablespoons of water
Desiccated coconut to decorate

Pop everything into the blender ( apart from the coconut ) and blend until smooth.
Roll into balls and then then roll in the desiccated coconut. Put in fridge or freezer

Can be frozen or stored in the fridge for up to a week however they are so tasty that the chances are they will be eaten in one go ( not a good idea ; )

Getting healthy and slim eating like the French!

20131120-172606.jpgI won a lovely box of French food from a fellow blogger Britishette. The box came from Bonjour French food and contained amongst other things a gorgeous, velvety black tapenade that we have already been enjoying with some oat biscuits! The biscuits that came with the box we munched through far too quickly, not a very French way of eating but hey! The Tomatine seems perfect for creating some bite sized starters or as a base for a sandwich and the salted butter caramel apple sauce is so yummy that I could eat it all in one go! The rest will be a perfect surprise treat for this weekend! You can check out the company here, they have a deal at the moment, buy 3 months get the 4th for free.

Now, you might ask, how can I write about French food since I’m all about healthy eating? Not all french food is unhealthy but I’m thinking Rillettes, Pâté, boeuf bourguignon, croissants, baguettes, cheese and wine…..oh the cheese and the wine!

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But I believe the French must be doing something right when it comes to healthy eating since they have one of the lowest obesity and heart disease rates in Europe despite their rich food. The weirdness of this fact is called the French paradox and scientists have been trying to figure out how this can be for decades. The possible answers are many;

The French eat very small portions….even if you have a 7 course meal you won’t feel stuffed. A French friend of mine told me that one of their courses is called “un amuse-bouche”, which is basically one single bite (imagine serving that in the US, UK or Sweden…..)

Another really important aspect of how the French eat is that they have a healthy attitude to food. Food is a pleasure, and something to enjoy and to be enjoyed with other people. It’s not either feeling guilty or good over the fact that you ate or stayed away from fattening bad food. Here’s a really interesting article by Karen LeBillion called “why French kids don’t get fat”. Here she mentions a study that was done about the difference in attitude towards food between the Americans and the French. They showed pictures of a cake and the first words the French said was “celebration” and “pleasure”. The Americans said “guilt” and “calories”. I would probably respond more like the Americans.

The French go for quality rather than quantity. If it’s not good food they won’t eat it ( however obesity rates are going up and there are suggestions this is linked to the rise in popularity of fast food)

They also sit down and eat their meals and NOT in front of the telly. The same French friend that I mentioned before said once that if her kids doesn’t sleep during the day she can’t eat lunch. At that moment I didn’t understand what she meant since I tend to throw whatever I can find into myself whilst making lunch for the kids. But after reading about how the French eat, I now understand. And from now on I will only eat when I can sit down and enjoy my food!

They have a glass of red wine with their meal (ONE glass not 3) and then they put away the bottle! One glass of red wine a day may be reducing the risk for heart disease. Read more at the mayo clinic. But the good benefits are only valid if you drink 1 glass ( for women) or 2 ( for men)
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I certainly believe the French have a very healthy attitude to food, however having been brought up in a country where the attitude is not quite the same, how can I incorporate the French way in my way of eating?

One thing I have started to do is if I go somewhere where I can’t decide the food, dinner party for example, I eat anything that’s being served but I tend to eat more of the healthy stuff and less of the not so healthy stuff. If I have something nutritionally bad I have a small piece, truly enjoy it and then that’s it. I don’t need to go for seconds. Listen to my body and only eat until I’m almost full. ( I need to work on this one though)

Eat anything I want but treat the treats as treats. I’m certainly not a fan of diets excluding food groups, not a fan of diets at all but certainly not the ones where you have to exclude foods. (Apart from if you have a medical problem or for a period of time when you are doing a cleanse) Not being allowed to eat certain things takes away the enjoyment of food hence making it very difficult to sustain for life. And sustaining healthy eating for the rest of your life is the way to go.
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The one glass of red wine is a tricky one. In Sweden we had a system called “motboken” between 1917-1955 where one could only buy a certain amount of alcohol in an attempt to get us to drink less. I think the system backfired because most Swedes do not have a healthy attitude to alcohol. Having a daily glass of wine with your food isn’t really the thing to do but when there’s a party or a social gathering there’s snaps (shots of strong spirits) and quite a lot of alcohol being consumed. And all the benefits of the red wine are gone out the window. Things might be slightly different now, Remember I haven’t been living in Sweden for quite some time. Not that UK is any better when it comes to drinking. One in four adults are binge drinkers!

So lots of things for me to work on! If I can adjust my attitude to food and alcohol now my kids will have a better chance of growing up with a healthy attitude to food and alcohol!

What are your thoughts about how the French eat? Do you believe they are eating the right way?

Macademia nut butter smoothie with mint dark chocolate covered macademia nuts

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It’s been one of those weird weekends. A mixture of good and bad. Lots of really good, positive stuff happening. We started the weekend with some possibly great news, then accidentally found a guy who had performed at the opening ceremony for London Olympics doing bubbles ( that’s right, bubbles) and watching Z1 & Z2 ( our little ones) running after these really truly amazing bubbles was a great experience, then doing Pilates and realising that hey I’m actually stronger than this no muscle woman that I thought I was!

Then on the negative side…..the stupid stupid painful tooth ( or lack thereof ), rain most of the weekend and some stressful things hanging over my head.

Then today I decided to go gluten free for a while ( stomach just ain’t working as it should ) which I’m actually fine about doing. I have been craving bread lately which could be a sign that my body is not dealing with it very well at the moment, i.e I’m intolerant. And it’s not a nice feeling being addicted to something. I will have so much spare time thinking about other stuff now when my brain constantly isn’t screaming bread, bread, bread!

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Anyway so because it’s been these weird good/ bad couple of days I’m in need of some celebration/ comfort treat! So this is what I made for myself tonight. It’s not diet food, it’s high in calories and high in fat. ( unless you’re on some weird LCHF diet but then you need to skip the maple syrup….and the banana) Macademia nut butter is not cheap but you can make your own apparently. But it was oh so comforting and delicious….and it’s full of good stuff instead of the usual crap that comfort/ celebration food is full of.

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Small handful of macadamia nuts
20 gr dark mint chocolate (70% minimum) Fairtrade Divine chocolate is great!
1 frozen banana
10 gr raw chocolate
1 small tablespoon of macadamia nut butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or honey if you can’t find maple syrup)
40 ml coconut milk ( I use Koko dairy free with added calcium and vitamins)
I added some cacao nibs (1 teaspoon) for some extra anti-oxidants but it’s not necessary)

Melt the mint dark chocolate and cover the nuts in the chocolate. Spread them out on a baking paper. ( they don’t really have to be pretty since they will be hidden in the smoothie anyway) Use a spatula and spread out the remainder of melted chocolate (for decoration) on the baking paper and then put it in the fridge. Leave for about 20 min. Blend the rest of the ingredients make sure it doesn’t get to liquidly so add the milk last and not all in one go. Finally add the chocolate covered nuts into the smoothie and serve in a martini glass. Take of some chocolate bits from baking paper and decorate. Eat with a spoon!

Macademia nuts are packed with dietary fibre, protein, antioxidants, vitamins like vitamin E, B1, B2, B5 folate, and minerals such as selenium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Peanut butter smoothie

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My husband James thinks I should own up to my ice-cream addiction. So here we go, I’m a complete and utter ice-cream addict, I confess.  I can not in my wildest imagination comprehend people who have ice-cream in their fridge for days let alone weeks. Oh I forgot it was there…Say what, can’t you hear it calling, eat me eat me eat me!

My daughter wakes up in the morning and with her cutest smile says glass (ice-cream in Swedish, I am Swedish by birth) and believe me I understand her. I could imagine waking up and open the bed side fridge and have an ice-cream first thing in the morning. What a great way to start the morning. But my daughter when she finally gets her ice-cream it’s not actually ice-cream, it’s a baby yoghurt that I put in the freezer. She’s happy and I don’t have to deal with the super tantrums of too much sugar. Similarly I have to find a way to trick myself. Ben and Jerry are my best friends and I don’t want to shut them out of my life completely but the amount I’m eating just isn’t on. There is absolutely nothing good for my health in ice-cream. Diabetes inducing sugar, lots and lots. Artery clogging saturated fats, lots and lots. And calories…..my daily half a tub of Ben & Jerrys is 560 calories!!

So anyways I tried this the other day and it was really yummy. I’m actually longing to make another one tonight. So much that I actually stopped thinking about my best friends. (Sorry Ben, sorry Jerry) The photo doesn’t do this smoothie justice. (Note to self, learn how to take better pictures!)

1 banana, frozen
1 tablespoon of peanut butter ( a good version without added sugar)
1 teaspoon of honey or agave syrup
100 ml milk of your choice
1 tablespoon of milled Flaxseed, Sunflower, Pumpkin and Sesame Seeds and Goji Berries or sth similar. I use the Linwoods brand

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Put the peeled banana in chunks in freezer a couple of hours before ( or always keep some bananas in freezer for emergencies : ) Add all ingredients to blender and blend. Pour over ice cubes or crushed ice. I usually leave my smoothie in the fridge for at least 15 min to get it that really nicely ice-cream-esque cold. Enjoy!

The tablespoon of milled flaxseed etc does two things to this smoothie. Firstly it adds some lovely crunchiness. It also makes it brimming with health benefits. Omega 3,6 and 9, protein, dietary fibre and plenty of vitamins. It’s also filled with energy. Banana contains both simple and complex carbohydrates so both endurance energy and quick release energy. Peanuts also is good for energy so if you want some extra oomph this is the snack to have ; )