Gluten Free Cookie Recipe

Christmas may be over, but I'm hanging on to it with some festive baking! These cookies are absolutely delicious and have no nasties in them which means they can be enjoyed guilt-free. Go on and give them a go and see how long they last ;) 

Ingredients:

* 1 ¾ cup almond flour

* ¾ cup coconut sugar

* 1 tablespoon chia seeds

* 2 tablespoons water

* 2 tablespoons cinnamon

* 1 tablespoon ginger

* A pinch of vanilla

* A pinch of salt

* 2 tablespoons maple syrup

* A small bar of raw chocolate

Method:

* Pre-heat the oven to 160C

* Place the chia seeds and water in a bowl, allow the chia seeds to thicken and soak up all the water for about 5-10 minutes.

* Add the almond flour, coconut sugar and spices into a blender and mix through. Next add the chia seed mixture and maple syrup. Blend for a further few minutes until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Add some extra water to the mixture if the dough is too crumbly.

* Roll the dough out between two pieces of baking paper about 5mm thick. Using star shaped cutters, cut out about 20-30 stars.

* Place the cinnamon stars on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes until transferring them to a cooling rack.

* Melt some chocolate and decorate the stars as you wish.

* Leave to cool & enjoy!

Christmas Pudding Raw Balls

Energy balls are a fabulous snack option as they are full of wholesome raw ingredients, however it's hard to come by ones which aren't full of sugar (albeit natural). My tummy doesn't cope well with dried fruit and sadly most of the balls on the market have this as their base. But hey ho, it means I get to experiment in the kitchen and make my own! Why not try out these festive delights - the perfect snack option with a cup of tea and Christmas movie. 

Ingredients

* ¾ cup walnuts

* ¾ cup almonds

* 1 cup jumbo oats

* 2 tablespoons coconut flakes

* 1 tablespoon maca powder (optional)

* ¼ cup coconut oil

* ½ cup nut butter (my fave is almond)

* 4 tablespoons cinnamon

* 2 tablespoon ginger

* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

* ½ teaspoon cloves

* ½ cup maple syrup

* Pinch of salt

* Decoration – Goji berries, pumpkin seeds

Cashew cream topping: 

* 1 cup cashews soaked (3-4 hours)

* ¼ almond milk

* 2 tablespoons coconut oil

* 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)

* Pinch of sea salt

Method

* Firstly place the cashews (for the cream) in a bowl of water and allow to soak for a few hours or better yet overnight.

* To make the balls, place the walnuts, almonds and oats in a food processor and pulse until combined.

* Next add the remainder of the ingredients in the blender and blend until sticky, you may need to adjust the spice to get the right balance.

* Once you have found the best balance of flavours - roll the balls up into equal size pieces and place in the fridge. It should make about 16 balls.

* To make the cashew cream - rinse off the cashews and place all of the ingredients for the cream in a blender. Blend all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Please note this could take a while and you will need to scrape down the sides of the blender on several occasions to make sure it is all mixed through.

* Remove the balls from the fridge and decorate with the cashew cream, goji berries and pumpkin seeds.

* Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

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Spice Up Your Life: Turmeric The Wonder Ingredient Of The Week

Turmeric is the superfood spice of the moment and thank goodness because it's brought rise to the delicious Turmeric Latte or 'Golden Mylk' as it's otherwise known - which if you haven't tried you MUST as it's basically a hug in a mug. 

This wonder spice has been popping up everywhere from supplements, beauty products to yummy dishes and all for very good reason. And Google has highlighted Turmeric in it's most recent food trends report as Google searches are exponentially increasing year on year. Who would've thought..?! 

Well I've also jumped on this bandwagon and have been been taking a turmeric supplement (from Pukka) for a few months now as it was recommended to me by a nutritionist friend to help moderate insulin levels (good for us PCOS sufferers) and for it's inflammatory benefits (great for recovery post training). And I must say I am a convert - sugar high and lows decreased and I can't remember the last time I had severe muscle soreness. But that's not all this spice can help with, it's also been known to:

  • Help skin due to it's antibacterial qualities, so bye bye acne 
  • Reduce cholesterol levels
  • Boosts antioxidant levels and the immune system
  • Fights infection, particularly good for the gut sufferers out there 
  • Keeps the brain healthy by promoting stem cell repair 

It's pretty obvious why turmeric has been used medicinally in South Asia for over 4,000 years! It really is a wonder ingredient and can be used in a variety of ways. If you fancy a stab at making your own golden mylk try out one of my fave recipes below: 

turmeric latte
  • 1 cup of warm almond milk
  • 1tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Tiny squeeze of honey if you need to add a little sweetness.

Add ingredients into a blender. Whizz and pour into your favourite mug to serve. 

Healthy Pancakes 101.

Are you kidding me?! When I discovered there was a way to make pancakes which were healthy, ridiculously delicious, not laden with sugar and wouldn't cause me to bloat I thought this must be a serious joke. But no they are GENUINE and I'm like never ever ever going to be making the real pancakes ever again! 

clementine pancakes

My go to recipe is just 4 ingredients (egg, banana, oats & almond milk) which I then add different touches to depending on what I'm feeling that day. If I'm craving some Lindt then I'll add some chocolate protein powder or cacao. But if I'm feeling like something a bit more smooth and caramelly then I'll add a spoon of maca powder. 

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The Body Tonic Pancakes

 (Serves 1)

 1 mashed, super ripe banana

1 egg

Dash of unsweetened almond milk

Small handful of gluten-free oats

Coconut oil for the pan

Additional dry ingredients (I pick one from the following to add to the mix): vanilla powder, flaxseed, chia seeds, cinnamon, chocolate protein powder, cocao powder, maca

Toppers: berries, kiwi, clementine, nuts, seeds, greek yogurt, almond butter

Directions: Mash your banana with a fork. In another bowl whisk the egg. Mix egg, banana & almond milk together and add the oats. Take your pick of the "additions" and add those too. Put the coconut oil in the pan on a medium heat. Spoon the mixture into the pan, either one LARGE pancake of smaller diddy ones. Let the mixture set and when the centre starts to bubble give it a flip! Once golden and cooked through take out of the pan and add your toppers! 

Pancake topped with greek yogurt, raspberries and nuts

 

 

Pregnant? No, it's just the dreaded bloat!

bloated panda

Having suffered with tummy issues since my teens, I am far too familiar with that daily bloat where you can look 6 months pregnant in a flash, have the worst cramps which make you want to curl up into a ball and those skinny jeans you put on easily this morning suddenly don't want to do up. It's a horrible and painful experience which effects far too many of us with no real clear answer as to why or how it happens (unless you've been diagnosed with an allergy, gastric disorder or illness which is a whole different ball game).

I spent years trying to find an answer, going from doctor to gastroenterologist to nutritionist to doctor to gastroenterologist to nutritionist...you get the idea. I had no allergies, no coeliac disease no nothing just plain old daily big bloating. So frustratingly I never really got anywhere apart from parting with hundreds of pounds and the grim answer 'it looks like you have IBS.' The diagnosis which no-one really understands, have no idea why you get it or what you can do to help. Brilliant. So I had to take matters into my own hands and experiment with how I can make my tummy stay flat and not blow up every time I ate. So I wanted to share some of my top tips which might be able to help some of you guys out there suffering from the same problem.

1) Intolerances. Just because you're not allergic to something doesn't mean you don't have an intolerance. Some things just don't agree with your body, it's as simple as that. From doing an elimination diet of cutting out diary, gluten, caffeine and alcohol when I was 18 I realised that me and gluten did not have a good relationship. So once I cut this out of my diet things did get a lot better - my bloating had reduced a lot and naturally I was eating a lot less processed food (where gluten tends to hide). In the last few years I've also noticed I don't react well with a lot of diary so I've switched my milk for nut milks and yogurt for co-yo or the occasional Greek yogurt which tends to be ok.

2) Stress management and mindfulness. Stress has a huge part to play in digestive problems as when we are worried or anxious we hold this tense knot feeling in our gut - we are all familiar with the big presentation butterflies in our stomach or that dreaded sickness post-breakup. So if we can learn to control our stress better than sometimes this can help stop the bloat. Ways in which have helped me I've are • yoga class once a week • taking deep calming breaths when feeling anxious • meditation with Headspace app • eating in a relaxed environment (e.g not at your desk, or on the go).

3) Antibiotics and probiotics. Antibiotics play havoc with your gut, killing off the good and friendly bacteria which help keep everything running smoothly and leaving the bad bacteria to screw everything up and play nasty. I've had a shed load of antibiotics in the past for reoccurring urine infections and if I knew then what I know now I wouldn't have been so quick to swallow those pills. Instead I would have looked at alternative ways to help such as drinking shed loads more water, apple cider vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, cranberry tablets - all the old wives favourites. A damaged gut takes time and love to heal and one of the most helpful ways to do this is to take a good probiotic daily which can help replace the good bacteria and encourage a more stable and happy gut environment. I like to change my probiotics each time I finish the pack and pick a totally different brand as they all have slightly different strains of bacteria and it ensures you're getting all of the goodies. Pop to a good health shop like Wholefoods or Planet Organic and buy from there as they'll stock the brands with high quality ingredients - you can always go check out their products and then be sneaky and buy online as it's usually cheaper.

4) Keep on moving. Being a PT obviously I'm going to be a big promoter of exercising for its hundreds of benefits - but it really does do wonders for preventing the bloat and also for relieving the bloat. A lot of the time the 6 month pregnant look can happen from things being "blocked" and exercise can gently encourage things to get moving again. Running or incline walking can be amazing for this as the pounding motion and blood flow helps release trapped wind or constipation (just be careful who's next to you on the treadmill as things can get a little awkward/stinky). I've also found exercising in the morning a good preventive to boating later on in the day. This could be because of its stress relieving benefits, feel good endorphins as well as encouraging wiser food choices for the rest of the day.

These are just a few snippets of what's helped me reduce my bloat and feel more confident in wearing tight fitting clothes again. If you have any questions on IBS, bloating or if I can help you any further please do send me an email.