Getting my body and my bank balance into shape [raw Thai salad with ginger lime chicken]

thai salad 1

Raw Thai salad with ginger lime chicken

 

Happy New Year!!

I just had a sudden thought. I know I want to be better at blogging, I know I gain satisfaction from writing it, and I enjoy reading other people’s blogs. So this year I will commit to writing at least one blog post a week. I just had a little panic when I decided I wanted to do this and realised it’s the 7th of January, but I guess that counts as being in the first week of the year. Having said that, I’m going to go by calendar weeks (Sunday – Saturday) so I guess I’m behind… whatever. We’ll all deal with it, I’m sure!!!

Well, the holiday season has come and the holiday season has gone. Yesterday was my birthday, which I tend to count as the official end of my annual food and drink overload, which means it’s time to start the discipline again. The wine and cheese has been wonderful, but it’s time to return to reality. Over the season I’ve gained some weight, which is unsurprising, but really the collateral damage is a lot less than it could  have been. I’m up about 1.5 kg, which puts me 7.5 kg (ish) above my goal weight. Blegh. But it’s ok- that goal weight is not exactly a “I must hit this weight!!!” goal- realistically I want to get about 5 kg off in the next few months to feel healthy again. I definitely don’t feel healthy right now. I feel a bit bloated, my clothes are tighter, and I don’t feel as strong as I did. thai salad 2My energy is down, but I know that’s all food related. I actually stayed relatively active across the break, doing plenty of hiking and getting lots of km under my feet, but it’s just not the same as doing the hard weights-based workouts.

I’ve also found that over the holidays my bank account’s got a bit unhealthy too- which is also not surprising. But when I think about it, there’s several things I can do that will improve both my own body’s health, and my bank account’s health at the same time. At the moment it’s not so much a “I could do this” as a I must do this”. So here’s what I’m going to be doing:

  • Cut back from 3 PT sessions a week to 2
    Having said that, I will not do this if it is going to compromise the exercise I do each week. Part of this action is learning how to self-direct and self-motivate in the gym, particularly on the weights floor. I still want to be doing weights 3 times a week at the gym and doing a bodyweight/cardio workout twice a week at work as an absolute minimum.
  • Cook/prepare more food
    I was getting really good at this for a while last year. It was saving me money, and it was helping me eat the kind of food I wanted in my body. But life got busy, and it all slipped, and next thing I knew I was spending upwards of $22 just on breakfast and lunch, and eating out way more than was reasonable for dinner. So that’s going to stop. I’m going to pre-prepare breakfasts and lunches again, and think ahead for dinners. If I don’t have the time to cook, I’ll make sure I’ve got food in the freezer.
    I’ve never done week-ahead meal planning before- I tend to be an on-the-day buyer and cook, but I can see how much that will help save money and food wastage.

On Monday night I cooked my first proper dinner for a long time. When I say ‘proper’, I mean a meal that I though about ahead of time, looked up a recipe for and didn’t just slap together. I think there’s a big difference between cooking to eat and cooking to nourish (both body and soul). I really enjoy cooking when I have the time and space to do it, and that’s what I mean by cooking to nourish. It’s cooking with some love in it (nawww, that’s a bit corny!!).

Anyway, I made the most incredible Thai salad/raw pad Thai that I found over at elsaswholesomelife. I’ve included some photos of my version here, but seriously go check out hers- they are much much prettier! Thanks Ellie for this great dish- I’ve just finished eating it for lunch, and I’ll be making some more tonight. This stuff is addictive.

Raw Thai salad with ginger chicken

For the raw thai salad check out the original recipe– I pretty much followed it to a T, although I used rapadura sugar instead of coconut sugar, and omitted the edamame beans in favour of ginger lime chicken.

Ginger Lime Chicken

  • 400g chicken
  • 1 heaped tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 heaped tsp crushed ginger
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Add chicken and stir, then allow to marinate for as long as you can (half an hour minimum). Place chicken on a lined baking tray and discard marinade. Bake for 20-25 mins at 180 degrees.

Leftovers for lunch! Yum!

Leftovers for lunch! Yum!

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Blueberry & lemon cheesecake (raw, vegan, gluten and dairy free)

It’s bcheesecake 2een a while since I posted here. Ages in fact!! There are things I want to write about soon (triggers, achievements, frustrations, hiking….) but I have no time right now, so keep an eye out soon. Or reasonably soon, at least.

Since I’m pretty busy today but I’m also super aware of how long it’s been since I wrote anything, I thought I’d do a quick hello. I figure that a picture speaks a thousand words, so here’s a couple of pictures of  a raw blueberry and lemon cheesecake I made recently. Being raw it’s vegan, gluten and dairy free too (although when I say it is what I mean is it can be. I used honey (not vegan) and roasted nuts (not raw), but it doesn’t really matter. I used this amazing recipe from Raw Food Recipes and I’ve gotta say- 6 and a half cups of nuts in one cake is a looooot, but most definitely worth it for the number of portions you get. The lemon in this recipe gives the cake a real “cheesecake” flavour- I served it to a room of dedicated non-raw eaters, and they all loved it.

Anyway, enough writing. Enjoy the pictures.

cheesecake3

Review: Raw Trader

I thought I’d try something new today and give a review a go. There’s a new cafe just up the road from my work that, as soon as I heard about it, had me pretty excited. It’s called Raw Trader and you can find it at 10 Sutherland Street, Melbourne. Raw Trader is, in their own words, a cafe specialising in organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and paleo healthy desserts and treats.

raw trader chalkboard

I’ve been there three times now, trying different parts of the menu each time. There’s no set list of desserts on sale here- they have different items for sale each day, depending on what’s they’ve made and what’s fresh. They’ve only been open for a couple of months, so I suspect that as they get to know which of the desserts are crowd pleasers we’ll see some items appearing more regularly.

The first thing I should say about their food is this: I haven’t eaten refined sugar now for nearly 7 weeks, and it’s fair to say that my tastebuds have changed. Raw Trader’s food is delicious, but don’t expect their passionfruit mango cheesecake to taste like normal cheesecake- it’s going to be a lot less sweet, and it’s going to taste a lot more like cashews than your average cheesecake. That works for me and my tastebuds- it mightn’t work for you.
But it’s still delicious. In fact, their food very much tastes like the kind of raw dessert you could (should you choose to be bothered), produce at home. When I visited with my mum she was a bit off-put by that, but I really like that I don’t have to buy, soak and blend expensive organic nuts, cocao and dates in order to get a raw dessert fix.

Price-wise Raw Trader’s really quite reasonable too. Considering you’d pay in excess of $7 for a giant piece of mass-produced Mars Bar Cake anywhere else in the city, their cakes and bliss balls (ranging raw trader slicefrom $4 – $8ish) are definitely not too expensive. Given how rich these foods are, their portions are very generous too.

When it comes to drinks, Raw Trader offers a very drinkable coffee blend with standard milk offerings as well as house-made almond milk. My first coffee with the almond milk was really exceptional- creamy, rich, sweet- but my second tasted really sour. Maybe I got an off batch of milk? I’m not sure. They also offer great looking smoothies, although I haven’t tried them.

Despite all the positives about the food, the one other thing I would say about Raw Trader is that right now their service is pretty poor. It’s a small space, and word’s certainly got out about it already, so their standard two staff never seem to be enough. Drink orders get mixed up and food orders are forgotten right now- I think they’re going to have to step this up in the future to stay with the very competitive Melbourne cafe culture pack.

raw trader counterBut despite what I’ve said about the service (and it really hasn’t improved at all in the three visits I’ve made), I will continue to go back to Raw Trader and I highly recommend that anyone that’s in that area of Melbourne drop by for and Almond latte and a Bliss Ball. The food is really good, and it’s really nice to have a cafe in that area of the CBD doing what they’re doing.

 

P.S- please excuse my fairly dodgy phone photos!!

 

Raw Trader on Urbanspoon

Struggle town [recipe: raw vegan berry cheesecake]

raw vegan berry cheesecake

Today I’m in struggle town. I’ve been there since last night. I want the chocolate, I want the baked goods, I want the muffins…. I want it all. But I haven’t had any.

It all started with a dinner time meeting last night, which featured Dominos pizza. Luckily I knew it was coming, so I turned up dinner in hand (red miso beef with asian greens from Sumo Salad, in case you’re interested), as well as a pear for snacking on and some mineral water to stave off the inevitable soft drink cravings. You know what? I did really well. I ate no pizza, no soft drinks, and no lollies, and I really enjoyed my dinner. That’s not to say I didn’t stare at the pizza and everyone eating it, of course, but once I got over that hurdle I was ok.

I got home last night and my boyfriend (I haven’t introduced him yet. Let’s call him J) was hunting for chocolate. I keep a bowl of the sweet stuff in my cupboard just for him- it’s currently featuring easter eggs and half a packet of Smarties, which says something about how much I go for the easter eggs (they’re still there! From easter! In April! I haven’t eaten them!). So last night he went on the hunt for chocolate and when he pulled out the bag of Smarties, which I normally don’t like at all, I lost it inside for a little bit. I reeeeeaally wanted just one easter egg. One of those tiny tiny Cadbury easter eggs. Or a Smartie!! Just one! What harm would that do!?

The answer is: it would do a lot of harm. I don’t want to crack, because once I crack it will all come flooding out. The thing is I don’t need that stuff- honestly, if there’d been any fruit or veg in the house I would have quite happily snacked on that alongside J’s chocolate consumption. So lesson learned- I need to buy more fresh stuff to keep on hand.

One of my hobbies is cake making and decorating (I know, not very handy right now huh?!) but I also really love reading baking blogs. The women (yes, they’re all women) who write them have such wonderful stories to tell, and such wonderful recipes to share!! Whenever I need a recipe I will never open  a cookbook- I will always turn to these blogs for inspiration. This afternoon I’ve been checking out one of my long-time favourites, I Am Baker. I’ve been following Amanda’s work for several years now, and even tweeted her photos of my own attempts at her great creations on occasion. She’s always lovely, and very supportive. This afternoon however, all I want is to ingest about 50 of her Chocolate Zucchini Cookies. How good do they look?! Now that’s just not going to happen, so in an attempt to diffuse my craving for baked goods I’m going to share with you a recipe I tried for the first time last week, for Raw Vegan Berry Cheesecake.

Yep, it’s raw. Yep, it’s vegan. Yep, it contains no cheese. But it does taste like cheesecake, it is easy to make, it settles a craving, and it’s a great treat without feeling like you’re cheating. Give it a go. Enjoy it.

Raw Vegan Berry Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from RawFoodRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours then drained
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple/golden syrup (if using golden syrup it won’t be raw)
  1.  To make the bottom layer, pulse the walnuts and dates in a food processor until they crumble. Continue to process until the mixture is ground up and sticking together when you squeeze it in your hand- like a pastry would.
  2. Press the layer into the bottom of a greased or papered tray- I used a brownie tray. Put in the fridge while you do the next step.
  3. To make the top layer, blend the cashews, berries and oil in the food processor until very smooth*. Add golden syrup to taste (you might want more than a 1/4 of a cup- I think I used less)
  4. Pour the top layer over the bottom one into the pan, smooth over, and leave in the fridge overnight
  5. Cut into squares and enjoy!!

*Note: I was using a pretty weak food processor and you can see my top layer didn’t come out super smooth. That’s ok- it still tasted great, and wasn’t an issue at all. If you’re wanting a really smooth ‘cheesecake’ texture, make sure you use a great processor

 

P.S- Please please please forgive me for that horrible photo. I promise I’ll do better next time I post something 😛

My first weekend

Well here I am, on day six of my 12 week challenge. My first five days actually went really really well- and I suspect that’s because they were weekdays. On weekdays I have near complete control of what goes into my mouth, and the exercise I do. Breakfast, lunch and snacks all happen at my desk, and dinner is pre-planned, as is exercise. When I have my gym gear sitting underneath my desk, it would be silly to carry it home rather than heading to the gym if I’ve planned a workout.

But on weekends, things change. I wake up later, which means I don’t want to eat as big a breakfast (after all, lunch is just around the corner). Another factor for me on weekends is that I spend a fair bit of time with my family. By no means do my family eat unhealthy (in fact they eat really healthily)- they just eat differently to how I’m trying to at the moment. Today for instance, my mum made a delicious vegetarian cauliflower crust pizza for lunch. I was pretty excited about the prospect of this (lots of veg to be had here!!) but it turns out my mum’s recipe contains quinoa and chia seeds- both things which, honestly, I have no idea if I’m supposed to be eating right now. Given that I’m trying to make a complete break from most carbs right now, the pizza base combined with some fetta cheese on the top of it made me feel like I was eating a massive cheat meal, without really wanting to.

How crazy is that?!?! I’m sitting there eating a delicious cauliflower base pizza, and I’m feeling kind of like I’m eating a huge hamburger with fries, and I’m feeling that guilty about it. Cauliflower pizza. All veg.

If I reflect on today, my logic tells me I’ve had a really good day of eating. A long black with a dash of  milk, a few mouthfuls of a couple of raw vegan desserts my mum was trialling (mostly nuts, dates and fruit in these), the pizza, and some cherry tomatoes (dinner’s still to come). It’s a day lacking in protein, but besides that it doesn’t look too bad at all. Except that I feel like I’ve had a ‘bad’ day.

I think it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve had six days of (dare I say it) ‘clean’ eating, and that’s a huge achievement for me. I’ve lost weight- a lot more than I’d hoped I would in my first week. This time two weeks ago, my idea of an unhealthy lunch was a pile of lasagne with some chips on the side, and today it’s a meal that contains anything other than meat, veg, herbs and spices.

I’ve had a really good week, and next week’s going to be just as good. If I can just get through tomorrow (which I will), it’s all downhill until Saturday rolls around next week. At least that’s what I hope. And intend.