Once in a while, you come across a recipe that is so good, you almost can’t bring yourself to share with someone. But I’m a nice guy and I’m in a generous mood today; no cook, gluten free, dairy free (in fact everything free) chocolate brownies. My wife makes these with the intention of giving the kids a healthy treat, but they manage to get at very few of them. These brownies take all of 5 minutes to make and must be eaten from frozen. Hide well at the back of the freezer!
A delicious and goo-ey Paleo friendly chocolate cake. If you don’t have gluten free baking powder, just use normal baking powder. But it will not be strict paleo. This is based on a Sara Jane White recipe
2 cups pitted Mejool dates
125g good quality cocoa powder (and extra for dusting)
1 cup of puréed beetroot (about 3 beetroots from a precooked vacuum pack, make sure it has no vinegar!)
4 medium eggs
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
Preheat oven to 180c /160c fan
Grease and line the bottom of a 20cm round cake tin or springform tin
Boil the dates in a small saucepan in about 3cm of water for 10 – 15min and then purée at high speed in a blender
Add the beetroot, cocoa powder, and salt to the dates and blend until smooth
Add the eggs, oil, vanilla and baking powder and blend until well mixed
Pour the batter into the cake tin and place in the oven – NB once the cake is in the oven lower the heat to 170c / 150c fan
Bake for 40 – 55 mins
The cake should be more like a ganache torte so be careful not to over cook
Once baked allow to cool completely before removing it from the tin
So the #30daychallenge is over. It coincided nicely with a christening we were having, so I enjoyed the food, the cake and the wine even more. I found the last 4 days very hard. Probably because I knew the end was in sight and I was sick of limiting myself to certain foods.
Overall, I found it a very beneficial exercise. I’ve a lot more energy and I am sleeping sounder each night. I did lose weight at the start, but as that was not what I wanted, I added some extra food into my diet and finished at the same weight I started, although much more toned. I do have the before and after photos and the difference is very noticeable. (My wife won’t let me post the photo, so you will have to take my word for it!)
Will I keep to the changes? I’ll keep to the majority of them. First back into my diet is oats and dairy and having tried a few paleo/gluten free/sugar free attempts at cakes, I think I’ll just treat myself to the full on, sugar laden, fat filled authentic version of Tiramisu every now and then (and less than before.)
I’ll definitely be cutting out the bread, pasta, grains (excluding oats) and pulses, as well as significantly cutting back on sugar. But if a recipe calls for some soy sauce or some baking powder, then I’ll have no problem using it.
For something healthy-ish, here is a recipe for tasty banana bread.
With less than 10 days to go, I feel I am now in a fairly straightforward routine. The key to eating healthy during the week for me is ensuring I am prepared on a Sunday for the week ahead. This week, I put a large 3 litre pot of chicken stock (2 chicken carcasses from the butcher, chopped carrot, leek and onion) on the hob and headed in to town.
When I came back a few hours later, I sautéed some onions and garlic and split it into two pots. In one, I put chopped sweet potato, lemongrass and ginger. In the other, I put carrot, parsnip and leek. I cooked these for 5 minutes, before adding enough stock to each pot and left to cook for 30 minutes.
When they cooled slightly, I blitzed them up, and portioned it out into containers with enough for 2 servings. I kept enough out for 3 days and froze the rest. Lunches sorted for a few days.
I put the remaining stock in the freezer for the following week. I even put some in an ice-cube tray so that I could quickly add some flavour to a dinner or sauce. Today we had chicken and chorizo stew (recipe below) where we used some of the left-over stock.
A lot of people are saying they are not sure what to eat. So below are some examples.
07:30 Grapefruit and Scrambled Eggs (3 eggs)
10:30 Banana and a handful of Almonds or Brazil Nuts
13:00 Sweet Potato Soup with 1 Chicken Breast
16:00 1tbsp Almond Butter and 1 Apple
18:45 Chicken and Chorizo Stew with Baked Potato and Butter
22:00 Coconut Milk (Homemade) and a spoon of Almond Butter
07:30 Smoothie with Almond Milk, Banana, Protein Powder and Almond Butter
10:30 Handful Berries and 1 Hard Boiled Egg
13:00 Homemade Carrot, Parsnip and Leek Soup and 1 chicken breast
16:00 1tbsp Almond Butter and 1 Apple
18:45 Beef Burger (Homemade) with Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges and Steamed Broccoli
So 15 days in and it’s time to look back. The first 2 days were fine. I didn’t notice anything different. But days 3 and 4 were the toughest. I was feeling dizzy, I was hungry and I even had pains in my teeth for some reason. I didn’t think I ate that much sugar before I started, but when I look back, I was probably eating enough to warrant serious consideration by the Irish government to bring back our sugar beet industry! After 7 days I had lost over 2 kilo’s in weight; not something I really wanted, so I needed to increase my calorie intake. I added some sweet potatoes, fresh coconut milk (made in the blender) and started adding a large blob of butter to my veg in the evening. I’m back up to my starting weight now so I seem to have found the right balance.
So what do I miss? I miss my porridge in the morning and I miss milk and yoghurt, but nothing serious. Whenever I feel the hunger coming on, I reach for my reliables. For me it is Almond Butter, Coconut Butter, Avocado’s, Nuts, Apples and Hard Boiled Eggs.
How do I feel now? I definitely feel more energised, even if there are two night-owl children trying their best to change that. But the biggest change is the disappearance of the afternoon slump, and for that alone, I’m determined to keep the majority of the healthy changes going. Does this mean I’ll never eat a chocolate brownie or a Tayto sandwich ever again, absolutely not – because life’s too short. But I’ll certainly eat them a lot less and enjoy them a lot more.
Normally a curry can be complicated and take a long time, but this one is definitely one for the favourites list. I make the curry before I head to the gym and when I came back, I finish it off with the coconut milk, coriander and lime.
This weekend was all about food on the go. Had a very stressful weekend as we were moving house. Made even more stressful by 2 crying kids looking for their barbies and play-doh. And the internet is gone for 2 weeks! If I didn’t reach for the Ferrero Rocher this weekend, I should make it through the rest of the month.
We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For me it definitely is. I normally eat porridge and eggs, so needed an alternative to the porridge for this month. Below is my all in one smoothie that keeps me going for a few hours. I like to add almond butter for some healthy fats. Feel free to substitute other ingredients.
With all the saucepans in boxes, we needed something that we could grab and go. These tuna cakes are perfect for lunch, dinner or even breakfast. I normally bring a few to work. Make sure you make a large batch as they will keep in the fridge for up to a week. They can be eaten cold or re-heated. If you like tuna, you’ll love these.
Almond or Coconut Milk
1tbsp flax seed
Super Greens Powder
1 tbsp almond butter (optional)
Thai Style Sweet Potato and Tuna Cakes (makes 12)
3 tins (approx 350g) tuna in brine, drained
2 large sweet potatoes, baked and mashed
3 tbsp butter (or coconut oil), melted
1 stick lemongrass, very finely diced
Large handful coriander, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp chilli flakes
Zest of 1 lime
1 clove garlic, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 180 C
Grease a 12 hole muffin tray with some of the butter
First mix the lemongrass, chilli, coriander, lime zest and garlic.
Add the tuna and mix.
Then add the butter and sweet potato mix.
When combined, put the mix in the muffin tray evenly and press down with the back of a spoon