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.

Sesame seed crusted tuna with asparagus and cashew nut salad

tuna salad 2

So feeling better in terms of stress. Exercise has helped lots. NOT drinking coffee has helped, NOT drinking regular tea has helped, NOT eating sugar ( well at least very little : ( has helped. Drinking liquorice tea and liquorice smoothies has helped. But now what, I probably won’t survive on herbal tea and smoothies only! 

I decided to research foods that are helpful when one is feeling stressed and then came up with this nice (if i may say so myself) little dish that combines a lot of the recommended stress-busting food!

Serves 2

2 tuna steaks
1 bag of baby spinach
1 bundle of asparagus
130 grams of spelt pasta or pasta of your liking
2 small handfuls of cashew nuts
Shavings of Parmesan
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of soya
Black pepper

tuna salad

Wash spinach and put in a bowl. Boil pasta according to instructions and steam the asparagus for 5 minutes. Roughly chop up the cashew nuts and add asparagus and cashew nuts to the spinach . Mix up balsamic vinegar and olive oil and dress the salad. When I made the salad I used a thicker balsamic vinegar and just drissled it over the salad which works as well. Shave some Parmesan over salad.

tuna salad 3

Rub the tuna steaks with the soya sauce and sprinkle the sesame seeds over it. Place in frying pan over high heat and fry it for about a minute on each side to sear.

Magnesium – Spinach/ cashew nuts / sesame seeds / tuna
If the body has been under stress for a long time the magnesium reserves gets depleted and if the magnesium reserves are depleted the body is less able to deal with stress. This vicious circle has to be broken so munch away on as many magnesium rich foods as possible. Nuts are particularly useful, apparently munching on something crunchy is relaxing in itself!! (my husband says don’t bite your tongue though whilst munching on nuts, he did and apparently it isn’t relaxing at all)  Other sources ;  almonds, mackerel, brown rice, beans and lentils, avocado

B6 B12 – Tuna
Vitamins B6 and B12 are important for keeping stress levels in check. B12 promotes a healthy nervous system. And a healthy nervous system means the adrenal glands don’t release as much cortisol ( too much cortisol puts the body in a flight or fight mode which isn’t good if you are already stressed)

Tryptophan – Tuna, sesame seeds, cashew nuts.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body to make serotonin. (The happy happy chemical which makes us happier, calmer and better sleepers! ) So all good for combating stress.

Folic Acid– Asparagus
Asparagus has been hailed as THE chill-out vegetable. It contains bucket loads of folic acid which can help in stabilizing moods.

I did feel much calmer after this meal (however it might have had something to do with spending the weekend by the seaside as well : )