Kris’s Chocky Cake (Guilt & Gluten-free)

Taste as good as they look!

I love chocolate – who doesn’t? But I am making an effort to eat more of the beneficial (dark) chocolate and less of the naughty stuff… (you know, the milky chocolate filled with sugar, nuts or a truffle centre). So, channelling 2 of my fave health foodies (Patrick Holford & Teresa Cutter) I modified their recipes and came up with this – can I just say – glorious chocolate cake recipe that even the kids thought were pretty damn good.

Makes 10-12

  • 125g good quality dark chocolate (70% Cocoa)
  • 2/3 cup macadamia oil
  • 1/3 cup Agave nectar (or pear juice concentrate)
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs (preferably organic or free-range)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 180-200 degrees C. Line a square baking tine with baking paper.

2. Melt the chocolate

3. Add everything into a blender (or mix by hand) except raspberries, and blend on low speed until all well combined.

4. Stir through raspberries. Pour into cake tin. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until just firm.

Enjoy with some extra raspberries on the side and a big smile!

Some Facts

It is a fact that Raw Cacao (or cocoa powder) contains antioxidants that rival fruit for better health. Many studies have shown dark (emphasis on dark) chocolate is healthy for the cardiovascular system. And now research shows gram for gram, there are more antioxidants, polyphenols and flavanols in cocoa powder than fruit juice!

Plus it’s high in magnesium and iron, and contains compounds that act as stimulants believed to boost serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain.  It contains the stimulants theobromine and caffeine that can increase alertness and give you a pleasurable sensation similar to the high people get after exercise.

Why Detox?

Milk is made from seeds at Kamalya in Koh SamuiThe word Detox has taken such a battering by the media over the past few years that there is more negative connotation and myth associated with it, than the wonderful vitality and rejuvenation it can bring to your health. A good detox program can literally be the start of a new lease on life and the essential first step down the path of long-term wellbeing.

Put simply, to detox means to give your blood a good clean, which has a profound and positive effect on your liver, kidneys, and every other organ of your body. Our blood accumulates toxins (more than it can filter out) from both external and endogenous (internal) sources. External toxins come into your body through poor diet, drinking too much alcohol, coffee and tea, stress, poor sleep, exposure to environmental toxins (pollution) and taking drugs… among other things. Endogenous sources are usually a result of hormonal or chemical imbalances, and by-products of the bacteria in our digestive system. Often excess endogenous toxins are a result of exposure to too many external toxins.

When your blood contains too many toxins it compromises every cell in the body. As a result your health pays a price… and ultimately your hip-pocket does too.

I remember the very first Detox program I did, and that intense feeling of being 100% healthy at the end. I had spent a week at The Farm at San Benito, Batangas in the Philippines (www.thefarm.com.ph). At the end of the program I had crystal-clear eyes, my skin was glowing and my energy levels were at an all-time high. My usual Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms were no more, and I had never felt so vibrant and healthy in my entire life. I remember thinking everyone should experience this feeling. Nirvana!

And yes, I confess that a medically supervised Detox program in a beautiful Spa environment, with food and juices prepared for you is a great way to Detox. However, I also believe that with enough motivation, commitment and advance preparation you can complete a very effective Detox program in the comfort of your own home.

So, taking the best bits from some of the wonderful Spas around the globe, expert advice from a number of highly regarded naturopaths and nutritionists, combined with my experience, I have created the Get Clean Get Lean program.

Before you embark, think about why you are doing this program. Is it to re-energise? Lose weight? Undo some of the damage done over the holidays? Or to kick-start a new, healthy lifestyle? Whatever your reason is, write it down. When temptation rears its ugly head, come back to the why you are doing this. I’m sure the reason why is much more meaningful to you than any temptation that may be put before you.

Also think about your end goal. Write that down too. How will it feel to achieve that goal? And what is your reward? Come on, we all need a deal sweetner! A little motivation to keep us on track. What will you reward yourself with (other than health and vitality) at the end of this program? Make it good… you deserve it!

My Get Clean | Get Lean program

Don’t Mess with My Metabolism

WORD: KRIS ABBEY

There is quite a bit of debate (for lack of a better word) around calorie-restricted or very low calorie diets (VLCD). Sure, restricting your calories will help you loose weight, but really cutting back on calories (below 1200 per day) is not the answer… especially for long-term results!

Creating Humps

When it comes to losing weight, the general rule of thumb is to expend more energy than you consume. Although this works for most of us, others fail to shift that fat even when they follow the strictest diet. The reason is simple. You cannot outsmart your body! As soon as you restrict your calorie intake, your body is awake to this and begins to ‘economise’ its energy expenditure. It effectively goes into Starvation Mode and tends to spare the fat stores, rather than use them up – the opposite of what you want!

When you finally can’t beat your body’s cry for food (particularly of the fast, energy-providing kind), off you go on a feeding frenzy, and binge until your heart’s content. Unfortunately, your body protects against another starvation and, rather than converting this food to glycogen and storing it in your muscles for immediate use, it thinks ahead and stores it as fat… a bit like a camel storing fat in its hump for a trek across the desert. Low calorie diets tend to encourage this kind of yoyo dieting, resulting in bigger humps than when you started!

What is Metabolism?

Your metabolism is a complex and finely tuned process. Every day, scientists learn more about how your metabolism operates and how different foods can affect it. The simplistic explanation for how your body metabolises fat is this: Your body’s first source of energy is from the blood glucose circulating in your blood, followed by the glycogen stores in your muscles. Once these have been depleted, your body looks to fat to supply its energy.

Some foods can actually increase your metabolism, getting to your fat stores quicker, and these are the foods you want to eat on a regular basis!

What is Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)?

You need a minimum amount of energy to maintain function of your vital organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain and nervous system, liver and kidneys, whether you are awake or asleep. This energy requirement is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the amount of energy you burn without moving or eating. It should not be confused with your BMI (Body Mass Index), which is a calculation to determine your ideal body weight for your height.

If you are interested in knowing your BMR, it can be calculated after fasting for 12 hours (to avoid increases in metabolism due to digestion of food). The best time to do the test is first thing in the morning after having naturally fasted during your sleep. Knowing your BMR allows you to establish a baseline, which is useful if you’re trying to lose weight or increase your metabolism through good nutrition and regular exercise.

What Can Cause My Metabolism to Slow Down?

  1. Ageing. As you age, your metabolism naturally slows. However, more research is showing that this decline has less to do with the ageing process and more to do with the fact that we become less active as we age. Reduced physical activity equals reduced lean muscle. Lean muscle is the furnace your body recruits to burn calories and maintain a quality of life that is both energetic and healthful.
  1. Thyroid Function. Certain thyroid imbalances can impact your metabolism. However, you would be surprised by how many people visit the doctor claiming thyroid-related weight issues, only to find their thyroid is perfectly normal. The culprit tends to be overeating, one of the main causes of metabolic slow-down.
  1. Dieting. We’ve already covered, but without making to fine a point of this, please eat sensibly and nutritiously – starving yourself is stupid!

What Can I Do to Increase My Metabolism and Burn More Calories?

Here are two ways you can supercharge your metabolism:

1. Regular Exercise

No surprises here! Physical activity has a profound effect on your energy expenditure. The great news is that you can increase your metabolic rate by 10 times during continuous ‘big muscle’ activity, such as resistance training, cycling, running, fast walking, tennis, swimming. Under normal circumstances, physical activity accounts for 15% to 30% of your total daily energy expenditure.

2. Eating Particular Foods

Eating food increases energy metabolism in two ways. The first results from the energy needed to digest the nutrients and fibre in your food. The second relates to the activation of your nervous system to stimulate your metabolic rate. The effect of just eating can add to energy use by 10% and reaches its maximum effectiveness within one hour after eating.

And believe it or not, there are foods that speed up your metabolism and take short cuts to your fat stores, helping you lose weight.

Read: Fat Burning Foods!

Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

Last Day

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

So how much do we rock!  We have done it.  4 weeks following the Get Clean Get Lean Program – 4 weeks without sugar, coffee, wheat, dairy and alcohol (amongst other things).  I am really proud of myself!

And I have not only learnt some fantastic things about how to take care of and how to listen my physical body, but also some insights into my emotional wellbeing.

I have learnt that not all food is created equal.  Not all “good” food is good for you and not all “bad” foods are bad.  It is about good quality, unprocessed food.  It is about making food decisions based on what my body feels like when it is hungry.  It is about eating guilt free and really tasting the food I prepare. It is looking for organic and fresh options rather than the quick and cheap options.

I am still learning that feeling bad is not an excuse for eating bad.  That food is not the way to turn any thoughts of sadness, anxiety, anger, fear or guilt into feelings of love and compassion.  Only I can do that.

And it is had taught me about movement and breath.

But most of all – the past four weeks have taught me about “baby steps”.  The smallest goal is just as important as any giant, long term goal.  Just because there are no big changes straight away doesn’t mean that there aren’t any important changes occurring.

This is just the beginning for me – and although I can’t wait for a Hot Cross Bun and soy milk latte – I am not about to have some major junk food blow-out and ruin all my hard work.

I have made a promise to myself to take care of me for all the right reasons.  Because of what I want and not what other people want.   Because of what I think is best for me and not what others think is best for me.  At  37 years old, I am taking responsibility for my physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing…  And it feels GREAT!

Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

DAY 27

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

I can’t believe we are nearly at the end of the program! I am even more impressed that I have nearly made it!

I started this program on a bit of a whim – I saw the Facebook page and joined up.  I thought to myself, “Well, if it gets too hard – I’ll give up…”.  Then I got the great idea to volunteer to blog about my experience and any chance of giving up went out the window!!  I knew that writing about how I was feeling and being honest about the not so good days as well as the great days would be a great motivator and keep me on track.

While the detox side of my life has sometimes been tough – the rest of my life has been worse.  The financial challenges that come from being unemployed are proving overwhelming and I am finding it harder and harder to stay positive about finding work.  I am not writing about this for any sympathy or otherwise, but to illustrate that even when all of this stress has been happening in my life – I have remained focused about my physical wellbeing.  This gives me hope.  As the “Get Clean Get Lean” program comes to an end I can use this experience to prove to myself that I can do anything.  And with a bit of luck, this will rub off on other areas in my life.

 

Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

DAY 25

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

So my leg injury is actually a hip injury and a little more serious than I was willing to admit.  But on the positive side – the guys at the gym were really great in showing me the sort of movement that would be beneficial and lots of upper body work to keep me going until my hip is all sorted.

I am actually counting this is as a mini win for me – usually an injury would give me the perfect excuse not to go to the gym – but I went and worked hard doing the exercises I could.

If you follow the work of Louise Hay and especially her book, “You Can Heal Your Life”, she suggests that hip pain and injuries relate to, “a fear in moving forward in major decisions or having nothing to move forward to.”   This really resonates with me.  Having no clear idea as to my employment future, I can definitely feel the tension being held around my hips and legs.  So as well as the chiropractic sessions, massage and movement, I will be spending some time doing affirmations about moving forward that suggested in Louise’s book.

I love Louise Hay and her work.  She is one of my heroes.  Her books constantly inspire me.  I am also continually motivated by author and teacher Dr Wayne Dyer.  I am currently re-reading his book, “Excuses Begone!”.  This is another book that has helped me over the last three weeks as it looks at why and how we make excuses and how we can stop.  Whenever I felt tempted to go and grab something sugary, or the times I have wanted to just stop because it was getting too hard – I would go back and read a chapter of Dr. Dyer’s book.  I really recommend any books from either of these teachers.

And lastly, but certainly not least, I should mention, I have dropped a whole size in my jeans! (Insert Fanfare here!)  When I started the program, I decided not to weigh myself – I just didn’t want the extra pressure of looking at the numbers, just in case they didn’t change – but after a couple of weeks of having to constantly be pulling up my jeans, I decided to buy a new pair and was thrilled to find I had to go down a full size.  And that is pretty special!

Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

DAY 24

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

A couple of days ago I hurt my leg at the gym.  One of those silly annoying injuries that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time but which has left me walking around like I am 80 years old!  It also means that I haven’t done any exercise for the last two days.  And I never thought I would be the type to say this, but I think I am missing it.  Not in a, “OMG I just am not myself unless I have run 10kms before breakfast” kind of way – more of a, “Mmm, I am not quite feeling myself – I wonder why that is” kind of way.

The exercise part of this program was always going to be the biggest challenge for me – even more than the coffee!  Apart from playing sport at school, I never really liked running.  It may be a poor excuse, but I just don’t think my body was made for running.  I have seen myself – and I look ridiculous.  I don’t have one of those ‘nice’, rhythmic running styles.  I have more of an awkward, this is not natural kind of style.  And I don’t really like sitting on a bike either.  I did try a couple of Spin classes, but I was so preoccupied with how uncomfortable I was (i.e. how much my bum hurt on the seat) I never really paid attention to what I was supposed to be doing.

I go to the gym because I know I should.  And even after nearly 4 weeks of spending 6 days a week there, I still have to make myself go.  And I am sort of stuck in this Catch 22…  I am sure one of the reasons I don’t like exercising as much as I should or could, is because I have never really found anything I like doing.  I walk on the treadmill with my iPod blaring and I watch the timer.  I don’t really like the group classes.  As much as I try not to, I spend half the class comparing myself to the rest of the group and then feel crappy.  But, I also understand that the more I do something, the better I will get and then it will become more enjoyable.  See what I mean?

There is no doubt that I have noticed the difference over the last couple of days but it has not been so much of a difference that I am now a converted gym junkie – however, I will be back there tomorrow, pounding along on the treadmill, lifting some weights because I know, deep down, that is best for me and my body.  And after all, that is what this program has been all about!


Get Clean Get Lean

MEG

DAY 22

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

Today, I have been trying to think of my reward for finishing the program – what I would like that doesn’t involve breaking every new, better habit that I have learnt over the last three weeks.

A reward that doesn’t involve something creamy, sweet or fresh from a bakery is quite a new concept for me.  And although a new handbag, pair of expensive shoes or hot pink Nars lipstick are all very enticing – the financially challenged side of me (and should I say the more financially responsible side of me) thinks that might be a tad reckless.

I nearly decided against the whole reward concept and making a big deal of ending the detox, but then I think we often do that.  We decide not to make big deals of our accomplishments or when we reach a goal and yet we often make a big deal when we don’t achieve a goal.  That inner voice telling us how we failed again and the only thing that will make the pain go away is that piece of apple pie or the family size Toblerone…

So as my body detox may officially end in a week, I am going to challenge myself to detox my mind.  Over the past three weeks, I have done my best to ensure that everything going in and onto my body is nourishing and free from anything artificial.  And my next goal is to make certain that the same rules apply for what I am putting into my mind!

As for my reward, I am still undecided, but I have it down to three: A full body massage and facial; a ticket to the Womadelaide Music Festival; or taking my nephews to dinner at the organic Pizza place near my home for a large vegetarian, gluten free pizza!

Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

DAY 21

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

Week 3 done!  A congratulatory pat on the back all round!

This week for me, I think will be the hardest.  I have been putting off social engagements until after next week and purposely avoided certain situations where I think I might be tempted to eat or drink something I shouldn’t.

I have spent this weekend looking at which habits I have learnt over the past three weeks that I will continue with when the detox program is over.  I love the dry brushing prior to showering and that dash of cold water as I am getting out really gets the heart pumping!  I love the way my skin feels and looks.

As a make-up artist, I am always checking out the ingredients in the skincare and make-up I use and I am a loyal customer of many “all natural” cosmetic ranges.  However, I am doing more and more research into organic skin care ranges both in Australia and overseas and I hope to try some of these products in the near future.

Luckily, I have always drunk a lot of water.  Soft drinks have always been too sweet and I gave up drinking alcohol about 15 years ago – so I will happily continue to drink plenty of water.  However, adding fresh mint, lemon and lime were great ideas that I had not tried before.

Coffee – ahh Coffee – this is one I am really looking forward to.  But I am going to spend some time looking for some great, organic, coffee to use rather than the quick instant kind I currently drink.

Over the past three weeks, taste and quality have been at the forefront of my food decisions and that is not about to change.  If I am going to eat food that is not so good for me, then I am going to make damn sure it is the best quality, best tasting food I can get a hold of!


Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

Day 18

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

Late yesterday afternoon I picked my Mum up from hospital. She was there for the afternoon for some common tests. This was a very strange occurrence for her (and me) – I don’t ever remember my Mum being sick or set foot in a hospital. She is completely fine by the way – and at 63 years of age she looks 50! I am not just saying that because she is my Mum but her healthy way of living certainly shows. She eats very little processed food and walks everyday before work. Even as a child I remember complaining that we were the ONLY kids in the WHOLE WORLD who didn’t have Coco Pops for breakfast (We only had porridge or weet-bix) and white bread was banned. I don’t think I even had a glass of Coke until I was 12 or 13 and I am sure my Mum was mortified.

When she got in the car, she looked at me quite seriously and said, “Did I learn something today! I LOVE food and I love eating and I don’t ever want to not be able to do it ever again!” She was referring to the fact she hadn’t eaten anything for nearly 48 hours prior and like anyone in that situation really craved food. But what did she crave? Not some quick chocolate fix or some buttery pastry or even a big piece of steak… No – my Mum wanted the biggest bowl of stir fried veggies!

“Are you crazy?”, I asked. “We can go anywhere you like and grab anything you want – Pizza, Chips, Fried Chicken?” She rolled her eyes, smiled at me and described in detail how she imagined the vegetables would taste and look and how great they would make her feel.

It made me think about a couple of things. Firstly, how different we are! But also, how did I get so obsessed with food when clearly, growing up, my Mum was teaching me great habits. Why don’t my sisters have the same obsession as I? I spend nearly every waking moment thinking about what I am eating, what I should be eating, when I can next eat etc etc and I never realised it until this last week.

Don’t worry – I am not about to go into some mock therapy session and regress back to my childhood and bore you with the details – but my new awareness can certainly be the first step to making these positive changes more permanent instead of me planning a huge carb blow out at 12:01am on the 1st of March!