Coconut Protein Cupcakes

IMG_5057These gooey soft coconut cupcakes were a real craving saver. I really fancied something sweet and I needed it to be low carb. Coconut and coconut flour is naturally high in fibre and low in carbohydrate so I knew it would be a good place to start. They have all the texture of a light fluffy cupcake without all of that sugar and fat added. You could easily try variations on these adding in cherrys or raisins instead of the chocolate chips.

My recipe made 7 cupcakes, but if you doubled up the recipe I think it would easily make a decent tray bake, or even a bigger cake.

Ingredients

  • 50g Vanilla whey protein powder
  • 15g Coconut flour
  • 15g Dessicated coconut
  • 10g Truvia
  • 25g Coconut oil
  • 100g Fage Total 0% fat free yogurt
  • 30g Dark Chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 2 eggs

Method 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and prepare a cupcake tin by lining with cases.
  2. Combine coconut oil and truvia in a bowl, once combined add all other dry ingredients, saving back a little pinch of dessicated coconut for decoration.
  3. Add the eggs to the mixture and mix in thoroughly.
  4. Mix in the yogurt until you have a cupcake batter texture.
  5. Finally add the chocolate chips, saving some for decoration if you wish.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the sponges ping back up when your touch the middle of the cupcake.

MACROS (per cupcake): 128kcal/8g Fat/3.4g NET Carbs/9.6g Protein 

 

Virtually zero carb cloud bread

IMG_3924This virtually zero carb recipe for cloud bread is from Lisa Faulkner on the This Morning Show. It really was simple to make, if you have an electric whisk it is very quick and easy, if you don’t I’m not sure I would go to that much effort hand whisking it. The trick is all in the whisking of those egg whites, the more air you get into them the more air your ‘bread’ will have.

I added mixed herbs, salt and pepper to mine. They were still rather bland eaten alone so I would definitely make sure to add some seasoning.

Another issue is getting them off the tray afterwards. I used foil greased with 1kcal spray olive oil, but I think more greasing would be beneficial as would possibly using greaseproof baking parchment.

Apparently you can batch bake these and freeze them. To be honest due to the texture being so soft I cant imagine how they would de-frost, but worth giving it a try.

The taste on there own was ok, rather bland, but when making a sandwich from them really transformed a meal, and definitely gave me the impression I was eating real bread.

All in all I give cloud bread a huge thumbs up!

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp Cream cheese (I used a low fat version)
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of tartar
  • Mixed herbs
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and grease and line a baking tray.
  2. Put egg yolks, cream cheese and seasoning into a bowl and mix until there are no lumps .
  3. In another bowl whisk your egg whites and cream of tartar together with an electric egg whisk. Keep whisking until you have soft peaks.
  4. Beat one spoonful of the egg whites into the yolk/cream cheese mix, and then fold in the remaining egg whites slowly, ensuring not to lose too much air.
  5. Drop large tablespoons of the mix onto the greased baking tray, and bake for 15/20 minutes.

MACROS (makes 8): 31Kcal/ 2.1g Fat/ 0.5g Carbs/3.2g Protein 

 

 

 

High Protein No bake cookies

IMG_3939
These almost reminded me of ice cream and would make insane ice cream sandwiches. I am going to trial out making some ice cream soon, so I will definitely have a play with these and get some ice cream sandwiches up here. My recipe made 6, I made mine pretty chunky and enjoyed straight from the freezer. They would need to be kept in the freezer until served but cool down pretty quickly left at room temperature.

 

Ingredients 

  • 25g Vanilla Whey protein powder (you can experiment with flavours)
  • 35g Oats blended to flour
  • 30g Peanut butter
  • 30g Vitafiber syrup
  • 3 tbsp Almond Milk
  • 20g Dark Chocolate chips

Method

  1. Blend your oats to flour and add to the vanilla whey protein.
  2. Add the peanut butter and vitafiber syrup and give a good mix.
  3. Add almond milk 1 tbsp at a time, leave some out or add more until it forms a dough you can form balls with.
  4. Finally add the chocolate chips, form the dough into 6 balls, shape into discs and leave in the freezer to chill. Leave for at least 30 minutes before serving.

MACROS (per cookie): 102kcal/4.4g Fat/ 7.5g Net Carbs/6.1g Protein 

Clean-eating chocolate fudge

IMG_3465This chocolatey peanutbuttery coconuty fudge is incredible and melts in your mouth! Now I’m not saying this is a low fat option, its just a clean eating treat. Its high in fat but full of healthy fats. I cut mine into 20 traditional fudge size squares. Just big enough for one to be satisfying. Great to melt in your mouth with a cup of coffee. Kept chilled in the fridge they should last until you finish eating them!

Ingredients

  • 100g Coconut oil
  • 15g Cocoa powder
  • 200g Natural no sugar added peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
  • 30g Walden Farms Chocolate sauce
  • 10g Agave
  • 10g Flaked Almonds (to top)

Method

  1. Prepare a small tin by lining with foil, this will be going in your fridge to set. Start by melting your coconut oil in a saucepan.
  2. Once melted remove from the heat, add the cocoa powder and stir until there’s no lumps.
  3. Add in the peanut butter and mix thoroughly.
  4. Once combined add the chocolate sauce and agave and mix througly until smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture into your lined prepared tin, scatter the top with your flaked almonds.
  6. Put into the fridge to chill for 2/3 hours cut into 20 pieces and serve. Keep well chilled.

MACROS (per piece): 112kcal/9.9g Fat/ 1.1g Carbs/ 3.2g Protein 

 

Raspberry questbar cheesecakes

IMG_3088For a while now I have wanted to make something that incorporates a quest bar. I also have wanted to try out making a protein cheesecake, so when this idea pinged into my head the combination was irresistible.

Ingredients

  • Raspberry white chocolate quest bar
  • 70g Fat free cottage cheese
  • 100g Fage total 0% yogurt
  • 50g Raspberries
  • 1 Egg
  • 10g Coconut flour
  • 10g Vanilla whey protein powder
  • 5g Freeze dried raspberries

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees/ gas mark 3 and prepare a cupcake tin with 5 cupcake cases.
  2. Place your quest bar onto a microwaveable plate and cut into 5 even chunks. Heat in the microwave for 15/20 seconds until soft and malleable.
  3. Taking each chunk of quest bar one at a time place them into the bottom of the cupcake cases and swidge down, this will form your cheesecake base.
  4. Blend the cottage cheese, yogurt, egg, coconut flour, raspberries and protein powder together. I use my nutribullet, but any blender, hand blender or smoothie maker would do the job. If you have none of those mash your cottage cheese with a fork and mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
  5. Finally add the freeze dried raspberries before spooning into the cupcake cases ontop of the quest bar base.
  6. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, and allow to cool before serving.

MACROS: 98kcal/ 3.7g Fat/ 3.4g NET Carbs/10.9g Protein 

What is carb cycling?

IMG_2612Carb cycling is a dieting technique used by athletes, bodybuilders and fitness models all over the world with some of the most impressive physiques. However the actual diet itself works for all sorts of people, and is not as complicated as it sounds once explained properly.

There are many different ways people set up their carb cycling plans, the main concept is that you ‘cycle’ your carbohydrate intake from low days to high days. Simply eating higher carbs on some days, to help promote muscle growth and refuel your glycogen stores; and eating lower carbs on other days, to help with fat loss.

Glycogen is essentially stored carbs, which you use up during your daily activity as well as during exercise. You refuel your body’s glycogen store on the ‘high carb days’, and on the ‘low carb days’ as your stores are depleting, carb cycling tricks your body into burning fat as fuel.

So why not just stay low carb constantly if it burns fat?

The danger of staying in the fat burning zone for too long, is that your body will only remain in that zone for a small amount of time, before looking for a higher source of energy. The next best source would be taking protein from already existing muscle mass, which is of course the opposite of your intentions.

How carb cycling works

High carb days stimulate an insulin response in the body, and provide energy to fuel your workouts, which means your body is not using the protein you are ingesting for energy, thus allowing it to be sent to your muscles.

Low carb days keep your body more receptive to insulin, improving your body’s muscle building response. They also help to promote fat loss in the usual way a low carbohydrate diet would.

Since carb cycling involves the so called high carb days, it’s psychologically satisfying, allowing you to constantly have something to look forward to. The high carb days roll around pretty quickly, curbing cravings and therefore making it a far easier to get through low carb days. If you are a stage in your diet when you allow yourself a cheat meal once a week, these are incorporated into a high carb day.

Of course it’s not all Pizza and Donuts I’m afraid. The high carb days carbs still need to be made up from clean carbs. Brown pasta, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, wholegrain bread, Oatmeal for example. The low days containing the same sort of carbs but in far smaller quantity, and filling meals out with more proteins, grains and vegetables.

Building your cycle

There are different ways to set up your cycle, the most important rule being a high carb day must be followed by a low carb day. Some people recommend medium carb days, low days and high days, however to simplify things I am just going to discuss how I set it up.

My diet dictates 3 low carb days followed by 1 high carb day, and then start the cycle again. This does mean that the cycle is not a week long, so high carb days won’t always fall at the weekend for example (for those cheat meal conscious people). But that’s how it works for me.

Low carb days the goal is to hit 50-150g carbs. Depending on your size, height and goals obviously these may need to be adjusted slightly, but this is a good starting point. Women looking at around 50g-100g carbs and men the top end of the scale. Not forgetting this diet also requires healthy fats, a good amount of protein, and balanced meals containing fibrous vegetables to work effectively.

High carb days the goal is to roughly triple your low carb day target, although some men can get away with a lot more carbs. There’s no hard and fast rules, some of these numbers may need adjusting as everyone’s body responds differently. Remember a high carb day is not an excuse for a binge so clean carbs only please.
Whether you still have a fair few pounds to lose, or you are looking to get those abs popping out, this diet has great results. The leaner you are the harder it gets to lose fat, so this diet is ideal for those people who have hit a plateau in their weight loss on their current diet plan.  For those who find they have a harder time sticking to a diet, this provides a strange feeling of flexibility, making it far easier to maintain. If you are just starting out on a healthy path, having built in days where you can eat more in a structured way, is a great way to introduce better lifestyle habits.

I was asked to write this blog post by the wonderful people at @fitnessbuddy247 on instagram. Take a look at their website, I think you will find some really interesting content!

http://www.fitnessbuddy247.com/public/blog/what-is-carb-cycling/

 

 

Ditch the fat free fads

IMG_2564I don’t know how to break this to you gently, but dieting really is not that fun, or easy. If you are on a good, well balanced, healthy, strict diet to aid weight-loss, it is not going to be a walk in the park.

As a general rule anything that says FAT FREE should NOT be on your list of foods. The exception that proves that rule is Fage 0% Fat Total Greek Yogurt. But I will go into that more in a moment.

Clean eating which is the best way in my opinion to lose weight healthily, does not involve replacing the already bad foods you’re currently eating, with the ‘diet’ versions. Just because something is low this and low that, it is still generally a bad food. The best thing to do is really change your diet permanently. Don’t just switch from Coca Cola to Diet Coke. Switch to water, persevere, and your body will thank you.

‘Ok…But its working for me’ I hear you cry.

Yes to be blunt if you are carrying an extra 2/3/4 stone or more you are going to lose weight by making these swaps, but it is not a healthy sustainable way to lose weight. Trust me, I did it myself. In 2012 I lost 2 1/2 stone by eating this way. I was so proud to be a solid size 12 and squeeze into some size 10’s that I pretty much gave up there. What happened, slowly the diet coke went back to the odd Cocoa Cola, the low fat foods were replaced by the old favourites, and over the next few years I regained around a stone of what I had lost, and spent those few years yo-yo’ing in weight. That has all changed now, and I am finally on a really good healthy path.

The UK government have recently halved their recommendation on our daily sugar intake, recommending max 30g sugar per day, and I for one make an active effort to be more sugar aware. When we talk about healthy swaps, we are talking about real healthy swaps, and I hate to tell you, not all of them are going to taste as good initally. However your taste buds will adapt, and when once in a while when you do treat yourself to something, you will really appreciate it.

My main culprits of this low fat fad will be uncovered in this blog piece, and I have given my suggestions on how to clean swap them in order for your diet to be not only successful, but the effects of it to be long lasting. Ditch the added sugars and drink your water people! 

Muller Yogurts – I hardly know where to begin, firstly they list their nutritional values based on 100g. When the yogurts themselves are in some cases nearly double that. The newest fad that is Muller Light Peanut & Caramel for example for the pot may only contain on the face of it 84 calories. Well woopdidee! But what on earth are those calories if not fat. They are 13g Carbohydrates and 11.9g of that 13g sugars. That for a ‘snack’ is a massive portion of your daily recommended sugar and carbohydrates, especially if you are trying to lose weight. You have to remember fat isn’t a bad word. Sugar is far worse. Try swapping it for fage 0% total yogurt which for the same 165g portion comes in at 6.8g carbs which all sugar and over 10g more protein. Its a no brainer. Its also totally fat free, I add actual clean peanut butter to mine, a healthy fat, and could even add Waldens Farm zero caramel sauce and re-create the whole yogurt. 

Alpen Light Bars – Lets look at the double chocolate bar, a popular breakfast or snack. 65kcal…Yes wow that is low. But what is it? 1.2g fat well thats ok, 11g Carbohydrates for something that is about the size of my thumb, and just as satisfying, and 4g of that is sugar! 4g of sugar in a bar that weighs 19g just let that sink in. The bar has 1g protein, and basically is not going to do anything good for you at all. Swap these for real breakfast cereal like plain weetabix, or porridge. Or if you are using this as an afternoon snack look into protein bars, some of which such as quest bars contain only 4g net carbs, and I assure you are 100 times tastier and more satisfying. 

Baked Beans – Why is everyone eating baked beans. Ok so they’re supposedly high fibre, but I wouldn’t call 7.7g per half can high fibre considering that half can contains 26.7g carbs. The problem being beans aren’t even a meal on there own. They contain over 10g sugar per half can and people are having these along side a plate of food. Swap them out for black beans, which for around the same as half a tin of beans contain 9.4g carbs which is substantially less. Less than 0.5g sugar and 3g more fibre. 

Ribena Light – Still contains 1.5g carbs, what a waste, nearly all of it in the form of sugar, so nutritionally doing nothing for you. Just drink water, ditch the diet cokes, the sugar free this sugar free that and get on the water. It makes your skin clearer, your belly less bloated, and your energy levels higher. 

Mug Shot Pasta – Anything like this that is essentially a ready meal is madness! I cannot understand how they have the audacity to call this tasty and guilt free. Lets look at the tomato & herb pasta. 49.8g Carbohydrate I nearly had a heart attack when I saw that, with 11.7g of that sugaring. Please someone help me. For that equivalent carbohydrate you could have 3 sainsburys wholemeal flatbreads, unlimited barenaked noodles (they are virtually 0 carb), 175g sainsburys wholewheat fusilli pasta (which is a huge bowl) or 4 slices of hovis wholemeal bread. Just to give you a few comparisons. 

So lets see what would happen if you had these foods in one day: 

Breakfast – Banana with a muller light caramel and peanut yogurt. 

Lunch- Mug Shot tomato & Herb with a slice of wholemeal toast with flora light. 

Afternoon snack- Ribena Light and an Alpen light double chocolate bar 

Dinner- Grilled chicken breast with baked beans and broccoli 

Looks pretty healthy to you on the face of it? 

Well in fact at the end of the day your macros would look like this:

Calories: 1166 / Protein 89g/ Carbohydrates 154g/ Sugar 56g/ Fat 13g 

That in my book is not a healthy balanced diet. I would be starving after that day. By comparison this is an example of how else to balance out those calories, in a way that will help repair your muscles after a work out, and keep your brain and body healthy and happy. 

Breakfast- 150g fage 0% total yogurt with 10g peanut butter and waldens farm caramel sauce  

Lunch- 70g Quinoa, grilled chicken breast, 1/2 avocado 

Afternoon Snack – Cookies and cream quest bar 

Dinner – 150g sweet potato mash, a turkey burger in a multiseed flatbread, with salad and broccoli. 

Calories: 1176 / Protein 124g/ Carbohydrates 75g/ Sugar 28g/ Fat 37g

The fat may be a lot higher in my example day, but it is healthy fats, which are good for your body not saturated fats which will cause you to BE fat. The protein is also based on an active lifestyle so you would want to adapt that if you aren’t training. 

What does our body do with Proteins, fats, sugar and carbs? 

Proteins: Build and repair muscles so are essential if you are doing exercise. They are also essential for your hair and nails, so eating more protein is a good thing. 

Healthy fats: Store energy, insulate us, and protect our organs…sounds ok right. 

Sugar: Excess refined sugar will force your liver to hold extra stores of glycogen, this glycogen when not used up gets converted to fatty acids and deposited around inactive parts of the body. I’m talking muffin tops and inner thighs. 

Carbohydrates: Are a source of energy that fuel not only our workouts, but our brain too. So please don’t cut them out of your diet completely. 

I hope I haven’t put anyone off their yogurt reading this. By all means eat these diet foods if you feel that works for you, but be aware of the sugar content in these things as that is the real hidden devil that is stunting your weight loss. By changing the foods your eating, and if I do say so myself making far more satisfying meals, you can cut down that nasty sugar intake by half. 

Clever meal planning is clever dieting. No quick fixes, no easy way out. 

Post-Workout Banana Loaf

IMG_2369I called this loaf post-workout, because sadly due to the carbs in bananas its just never going to be low carb. But it is low GI and slow release energy carbohydrates. It is also ridiculous delicious, high in protein and its texture was incredible.

I did mine with chocolate chips, because well who doesn’t love chocolate chips, but you could leave those out.

I went for a traditional loaf tin to bake mine, but it would make also fantastic muffins.

My loaf was cut into 8 chunks, they were pretty generous from the size of the loaf I made so you could cut down the carbs by making it go a little further, but personally I think the carb element, mostly from bananas, makes it a great runners loaf or post-workout treat.


Ingredients

  • 2 Medium bananas
  • 2 scooops/50g Vanilla whey protein
  • 2tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Whites of large eggs
  • 10g Truvia
  • 1 heaped tsp Cinnamon
  • 100ml Unsweetened Almond milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 10g Flaked almonds
  • 20g Dark Chocolate chips
  • 100g Oats (blended to a flour)
  • 1 tbsp Coconut flour

Method 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degress/gas mark 4. Prepare and line a loaf tin.
  2. Mash your two bananas in a bowl with the back of a fork.
  3. Add the protein powder, baking powder, truvia, cinnamon, and salt. Give it a good mix.
  4. Combine in the egg whites and almond milk, the finally the two flours.
  5. Finally add the flaked almonds and dark chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the mixture into your lined loaf tin and bake in the oven for around 40 minutes until a knife comes out clean.

Can be enjoyed warm but leave it to cool for at least 5 minutes…I know its hard. I sprinkled the top of mine with a few almond flakes and enjoyed on a dog walk.

MACROS (one slice if sliced into 8 chunks): 174Kcal/ 4.3g Fat/ 26g Carbs/9.5g Protein