May 22, 2015

Lola Berry & The Happy Cookbook

Hey lovelies, thank goodness it's the Friday right?  I hope you all have exciting plans for the weekend.  I know I'm looking forward to the weekend, hopefully catching up on a few things and cooking up a batch of new goodies from my new FAVOURITE cookbook.

I was recently offered a copy of 'The Happy Cookbook' by Lola Berry and it sparked my interest as it was full of gluten-free and sugar recipes. I decided to check it out, but already having a kitchen bookshelf full of healthy sugar-free recipes, I thought it would likely be similar to the rest.

Wasn't I glad that I was wrong.

I fell in love immediately.  Firstly, the book is just so pretty - I'm a big sucker for cute illustration so I couldn't help but want to flick through it.  As I did have a flick through, I realised that the recipes are totally user-friendly.  Some of the other (similar) cookbooks I have are full of delicious recipes that I am a little afraid to cook because I've never heard of some of the ingredients (and don't even know where to begin to source them).  But a lot of Lola's recipes are made up of ingredients that I already have in my cupboard.   These are recipes that I can see myself making on a regular basis and being able to whip up at last minute.  The food looks so amazing, and the photos of the food are just so pretty.

But that's not all.  You all know that I am a huge fan of natural beauty products, so imagine my absolute delight when I found section on 'Natural Beauty' in the front full of fantastic natural products and their uses.  I think Lola just became my new best friend.. and is it weird that I kind of feel like I know her now?  Probably.  But once you own the cookbook you do kind of get the feel that Lola is a new friend just sitting up on the bookshelf.

Oh and did i mention that the whole book is just so pretty?

Anyways, as you can see, I'm a big fan of 'The Happy Cookbook' and Lola was kind enough to share one of her recipes with us today, along with answering a few questions to help busy mum's prepare healthy food for their families.  Here's what she had to say:

Hi Lola!  Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions today:

1. Families seem busier than ever these days. What is your best advice for mothers who want to avoid fast-food and cook nutritious meals but are very time-poor?

It does take prep, so if you can give yourself one prep day a week, even just for an hour or so.  Think about making a big batch of food in one hit and frezzing it up in portions ready to go.  Regarding school snacks, think of pre making energy balls and keeping them in the freezer so they're ready to go.  Try to think of alternatives, so we're talking: sweet potato chips, kale chips and raw chocolate in the place of junk food treats.

2. What are some healthy foods that busy mums can quickly snack on during the day to keep their energy levels high?

I think making raw energy balls is a goodie.. Frogs on logs is brilliant too, that's just celery with nut butter and sultanas (so it actually looks like little frogs on logs).  You can also try making a healthy avo dip and use raw sweet spud dippers.

3. What are 5 things you need in your pantry (so you always have ingredients to whip up a quick meal/snack)?

Coconut oil
Nut butters
Medjool dates (just mix with nut butters and nuts and turn into an energy ball)
Avocados (can add to salad, have on it's own or even make a chocolate mousee from)
Coconut water, a nice sweet drink if you need a little pick me up.

Thanks for the great tips Lola, and for the delish recipe below:

Chia Pudding with Granola and Mixed Berries
(From The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry)

Ingredients:
375ml (1 ½ cups) almond milk (or try coconut milk)
80g (1/2 cup) chia seeds
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ vanilla pod, split and scraped
130g (1 cup) mixed berries
About 150g (1 cup) Crunchy Paleo Granola (page 20)
Sprinkle of dry chia seeds, to serve
Edible flowers, to serve (if you want to go all out)

Directions:
To make the chia pudding, put your nut milk, chia seeds, maple syrup and vanilla seeds into a jar, screw the lid on tight and give it a good shake, then place in the fridge for about 4 hours, or overnight is best. The chia seeds will expand to about three times their size. Then your pud is done! It’s time to get layering.

Now take two clear glasses, spoon a layer of chia pud in the bottom, then pop on a layer of berries, followed by a layer of Crunchy Paleo Granola. I like to make three layers, then top everything off with a few fresh berries and chia seeds. These will last 3 days in the fridge and serves 2.

The Happy Cookbook from Lola Berry can be purchased at www.dymocks.com.au

May 18, 2015

Why HIIT can be better than Cardio for weight loss

Steady Cardio vs HIIT for weight loss
If you're on social media then you've probably already heard of HIIT or Tabata.  People everywhere are learning that these quick workouts are super effective for decreasing body fat* and increasing strength and fitness**, but the best thing about this style of workout is that you can complete it at home in just 20 minutes, which is perfect for a busy mum.

Before we go any further though, I thought I'd quickly explain what HIIT and Tabata are for those that don't know what it really means:

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and is a workout that consists of short bursts (1-2 minutes) of high intensity exercise  that should raise heart rate up to about 80-95% of it's max, followed by a rest period of anywhere between 30sec to 2 minutes depending on the workout you are doing.  You could choose to do hill sprints, burpees, certain weight training exercises or basically any exercise that you enjoy that gets your heart really pumping.  Overall these workouts usually take about 20 minutes.

Tabata is a workout that consists of short bursts (20 seconds) of high intensity exercise that should raise your heart rate above 100%, followed by a rest period of about 10 seconds.  Again, you could  choose any exercise or movement that gets your heart racing.  A Tabata workout usually takes about 4 minutes.

So why are these style of workouts better than steady cardio (like jogging or steady cycling etc) for weight loss?  Read on and I'll give you a brief introduction into why..

Steady cardio does have it's benefits and it's place - and if you are the type of person that enjoys cardio, then keep it up!  But if you want to see some specific changes in weight loss or body composition and steady types of cardio aren't really working for you, then it's time to give HIIT or Tabata a try.  You see, to be burning fat, your calorie expenditure needs to be more than your calorie intake, and steady cardio exercise alone just isn't a very effective tool for calorie burning and this is why - a person who weighs 65 kgs will burn (roughly) between 200-300 calories in 30 minutes of steady cardio, and over time, your body adapts to that cardio and won't burn as much.  A much more time-efficient way to reduce that 200 calories would be skipping the chocolate bar, or cutting 2 slices of bread from you daily diet, or opting for vegetables over pasta.  A clean, healthy diet that is low in processed foods and rich in vegetables, proteins and healthy fats will be your best ally in weight loss.   Once you are eating well, exercise can help you tone, gain strength and shape your body (amongst the many other health benefits).

One of the reasons that HIIT style workouts are more efficient than steady cardio, is that the high intensity exercise - especially exercises that increase strength, helps you build muscle and creates changes within your muscle metabolism.  This will help you boost your body's metabolism which will help you burn through more calories even after the workout is finished.  And the more muscle you have, the more calories your body uses in it's day to day functioning.  (You can actually lose muscle by doing a lot of steady-state cardio***).  

So hopefully now I've helped give you a little bit of insight into why HIIT and Tabata are a very effective tool for weight loss and body composition changes.  Again,  if you enjoy cardio then keep it up,  there are many benefits and I love a good run myself.  But if you have specific weight loss, body composition goals and time restraints, HIIT might be a better option.  Stay tuned as very soon I'll be sharing some great HIIT workouts that you can do at home..



References:

 *20x3: Eliminate Your Belly Fat In An Hour A Week, By Dr Steve Boucher
 **1996 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise authored by Izumi Tabata
*** Wilson, et al. Concurrent Training: A Meta Analysis Examining Interference of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise. University of Tampa, FL. J Strength Conditioning.

May 15, 2015

Mothers Day 2015

I know we are a week past Mother's Day now, but this is the first chance I've had to write about it and I had such a special day with my munchkins that I couldn't let it pass without sharing. I hope all you gorgeous mamas out there got spoilt and pampered like you truly deserve.

This Mother's Day was particularly special as the kiddos both knew and understood what Mother's Day was all about, and they had both bought/made presents at preschool and school that they were excited to give me (in fact, they were so excited that they tried to give them to me multiple times before the actual day, it was so sweet).

I woke up on the day to some banging and scurrying sounds as Hunter - who had remembered that it was Mother's Day all by himself without any reminding - got his presents together and came in to give them to me. He made me the sweetest calico bag that had (my very first hand written) 'I love Mummy' and love hearts that he'd drawn all over it, a bookmark of photo booth pics of himself, and a necklace and chocolates that he'd bought at the school Mother's Day stall. He spoilt his Mama and was so proud.

Hunter then went and woke up Alleah, and she bought me in the cutest hand-painted mug and some 'medals' that she'd made for being the No.1 mum (she told me that she thought the medals were for her though), and a beautiful laminated picture that said 'I love Mummy because...' And she had said 'She draws with me, says prayers with me at bedtime and does craft with me'. Although they were written by her teacher, I know they were her words as they are the sweetest little things that we love to do together which was so special to hear confirmation that she enjoys them as much as I do.

I felt so incredibly blessed and spoilt by Olly and the kids this year, and I'm also very thankful to have such a wonderful mama, and wonderful mother in-law and grandmothers in my life.

I hope you all enjoyed your special day this year xo

May 3, 2015

Unplug. Lessons from a five day blackout.

unplug
Last Monday night Sydney and surrounds was hit with what they called a 200 year super storm called an 'East Coast Low'.  Winds ravaged, trees toppled everywhere, rain flooded and the power went out.  For days.  5 days.

I am incredibly thankful that my dad recently blessed us with some camping gear, as our gas camping stove was a huge saving grace allowing us to cook and heat up water to clean and bathe. We managed to get ice for a few days but as as the blackout continued, it eventually sold out so we had to resort to non-perishables until the power came back on, which it eventually did at 5pm on day 5 of no power.

Which was approximately 20 minutes after our gas bottle ran out, and about 15 minutes after another freak storm - of the hail kind this time.  I mean, talk about freakish severe weather.  Two freak storms within one week.

The power came back on just as we were kind of getting used to life without power, not that we didn't dance, jump, shout and celebrate when it came back on though (oh and I did catch Olly hugging the foxtel box - the poor man missed his TV).  We heard the neighbours celebrating out the front so we joined them and realised it wasn't just our neighbours, you could literally hear people celebrating and shouting across the whole neighbourhood - from many streets away.  I suppose that's the kind of excitement and relief you would expect though.  I am still pinching myself when I go to open the fridge, or switch the kettle on - it seems a little surreal, and I almost feel guilty for using it.. weird, I know.

On a more serious note though, I have learned a big life lesson this past week.  I noticed that without electricity, without our techno-gadgets, and being able to endlessly use our smart-phones and other devices, a lot of space is created in life.  Space that can be filled up with spending quality time with the ones you love.  Space to talk to your neighbours, have conversations that you wouldn't normally have.  Space to get those little jobs done that you have been meaning to do.  Space to focus on one thing at a time without the interruptions of technology.  And yes, technology can be mighty distracting at times when you are constantly being interrupted by phone calls, text messages, emails and notifications on your device.  How many times have you picked up your phone or opened the computer to do something, see something else and get distracted, forgetting why you came there in the first place?  I know it happens to me more times than I care to admit.  I am betting those tiny distractions add up to a huge chunk of time over the course of a day or a week that you could spend doing whatever it is that you want to do.

Technology, electricity is wonderful.  Of course we need it.  But now that we have it back, I realise how incredibly important it is to unplug every now and then. 

Apr 30, 2015

Kids Breakfast Smoothies

Breakfast Smoothies
One of the most regular questions I have been asked since changing to a Paleo-style diet, is what I eat for breakfast, and what my kids eat for breakfast.  I've shared photos of our breakfast smoothies before on Instagram, but I thought I'd talk about it in a little more depth and share my three favourite recipes with you today. 

When trying to adopt a healthier diet, breakfast seems to be the meal that stumps people the most and I totally get it, mornings are rushed and busy enough without being able to whip out a quick, convenient breakfast.