The Power of Sleep

It’s no secret that sleep and wellbeing are correlated.

But are you aware of how many factors in your life depend on good sleep?

In a rush to accomplish all the lifestyle goals we set ourselves (in the realm of fitness, diets, social life, careers, etc.) sleep is often neglected.

However, on top of making you feel crappy, sleep deprivation has also been linked to an increase in obesity, and decrease in physical performance.

A study of 14,148 US Army Active, Reserve, and National Guard members found significant associations between quality of sleep and physical performance, nutritional habits, measures of obesity, lifestyle behaviours and mental health.

So what can you do to ensure you get a good nights rest?

Different things are going to work (and not work) for different people. Give new methods a go and see how your sleep transforms. Things that have worked for me include:

Switching off all devices 30 minutes before bed. Devices play a major role in disrupting peaceful sleep. Ensuring that your devices are switched off 30 minutes before bed time, and that they are out of reach from your resting place, is highly beneficial. If you are worried about missing emergency calls, you can always turn on do not disturb and only allow specific contacts to be able to ring through.

Getting a Sleep Tracker. Fitbit is a popular activity tracker, which can provide insight into the amount of sleep you are getting. It will show you your data compared to others in your demographic, and the Fitbit goals/challenges/community will help you set goals to achieve a healthier sleep schedule.

Guided Sleep Meditation Podcasts. If podcasts are your thing, I would highly recommend Get Sleepy to send you off.

Natural Supplements/Teas. There is a lot of false marketing around these products, so it’s important to read the ingredients and also the reviews on products. Two products that I have found effective are The Beauty Chef Sleep Support and Pukka Night Time Tea.

Focus on your diet before bed. This means limiting caffeine after 2pm and high sugar foods after 6pm, as these are both stimulants that are likely to disrupt a good nights rest.

Let me know if any of these work for you!

Making Healthy Brownies (80 Cal Each)

We’ve just come out of Easter and I’m sure everyone has spent the weekend enjoying lots of chocolate and other yummy, indulgent dishes. Whenever I’m trying to get back on track, I always bake some healthy desserts or I risk going to healthy and then just binging on all the leftover Easter chocolate…

Healthy dessert recipes mean that you can enjoy sweet treats whilst avoiding the sugar high that usually accompanies them. Whilst a sugar high (i.e. insulin spike caused by an overload of glucose) might sound fairly harmless in the short run, excessive sugar intake can have negative impacts in the long term. See here for information about how excess sugar affects your teeth, joints, skin etc.

To avoid these complications, I try to reduce my sugar intake whilst still enjoying great desserts. It all about everything in moderation!

This recipe has substitutes from the usual brownie recipe that we all know and love, that not only make it lower in calories, but also provide some wonderful health benefits with the same delicious taste.

Sweeteners

Bananas – These delicious fruits provide a wonderful texture to the brownies whilst also giving a subtle fruity undertone. Banana’s are rich in vitamin B6 which helps your body metabolise carbohydrates and fats and remove unwanted chemicals from your body. Banana’s also provide a healthy source of Manganese which helps your body produce collagen to boost your skin.

Sugar Free Maple Syrup and Chocolate – Sugar free alternatives are great ways to enjoy sweet, sugar-like flavour whilst avoiding cane sugar. It is important to note that some no-calorie sweeteners may upset your stomach. If this is the case opt for a natural sweetener like Stevia.

Healthy Fats

Coconut Milk – Coconut milk is rich in healthy fats and antioxidants, which help to protect you from harmful radicals that are produced when your body breaks down food.

Flours

Oat Flour – Oat flour is a naturally gluten free, whole grain flour, which provides an excellent source of fibre to help your digestion whilst keeping you satiated. If you enjoy the taste and texture, oats are a powerful substitute in creating a healthy recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup canned LITE coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats or Oat Flour
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp sugar free maple syrup (or real maple syrup if you prefer that).
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 90g Chocolate – I like to use Well Naturally Sugar Free Chocolate
  • Optional: 5 drops of MyProtein Chocolate FlavDrops

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C
  2. Put rolled oats into blender and blend. Then, add bananas, coconut milk, cacao powder, syrup, vanilla extract, and baking powder into blender and BLEND.
  3. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in salt and chopped up chocolate. Add FlavDrops if you desire a richer chocolatey taste (the sweetness of this batter will subdue when it bakes, so aim for a mixture that is slightly sweeter than you desire).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until fudgy brownie comes out on skewer inserted.
  5. Allow to cool a little bit and then cut into 16 slices!

ENJOY! Let me know how the recipe goes! X

Creamy Quinoa &Cashew Bake

You can’t go wrong with a potato bake. It is one of my favourite dishes to accompany special occasions.

However, as potato bakes are rich with thick cream, sour cream, cheese and of course; potatoes, I designed an alternative recipe with more nutritional benefits.

This recipe retains the iconic flavours and creaminess of the legendary potato bake, but it does so at a slightly lower calorie cost.

This recipe is vegan and can be modified to suit other diets if required.

Serves5
Calories per serve304
Protein per serve12.1g
Cooking time50 minutes
Prep Time15 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. Florets from 1 head of broccoli chopped into medium-small pieces
  2. 1 carrot chopped into small chunks
  3. 1 brown onion
  4. 180g uncooked quinoa
  5. 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  6. 1 cup raw cashew nuts
  7. 1.5 cup of boiling water
  8. 1.5 cups vegetable broth (or beef stock for non-vegan flavour)
  9. 2 tbsp garlic powder

Method:

Part 1 Cashew Cream: Put the cashews into 1 cup of boiling water and let them stand for 10 minutes. Then drain the cashews and add them + the remaining 1/2 cup of water to a blender. Blend until creamy paste forms.

Part 2 Quinoa Casserole: Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Add all remaining ingredients + cashew cream into an oven safe dish. Stir well until all are incorporated. Place dish in oven for 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and quinoa has cooked.

Let me know if you try it!


My Irresistible Homemade Hummus

Lately, I’ve been on the Hummus wagon.

I fell off for a while whilst I was struggling with IBS. To manage it my doctor had me on a low FODMAP diet where legumes are not allowed.

Now that I’m able to eat them again I’ve been using beans and lentils wherever I can. If you love chickpeas too you have to try Pamela Reif’s inventive cookie dough recipe – chickpeas are involved…

If you’re not adventurous enough to try chickpea based desserts, try a making a savoury hummus at home.

I find homemade hummus much more flavourful than the store bought kind, and it’s a brilliant way to get plant-based protein, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and healthy fats in.

As I’m also (weirdly) addicted to green olives, I’ve added them to the recipe as well – feel free to exclude them if you’re not as keen.

Blend the following until smooth, and try it yourself:

  1. 400g canned chickpeas (washed & drained)
  2. Healthy dose of lemon, herb and garlic seasoning (I find the Masterfood’s blend the perfect amount of zest and flavour, but you can always use an actual squeeze of lemon, mixed herbs, and a clove of garlic).
  3. Lots of Paprika
  4. 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  5. 3 tbsp water
  6. 10 green olives, pitted and stuffed with pimento

Have you made your own hummus before?

How to Perfect Winter Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are the perfect accompaniment to every savoury meal.

Whether you’re focusing on leaning down or just trying to incorporate enough veggie servings into your day, roasted veg + protein will help you get there.

Roasting vegetables is a delicious way to get the vitamins, minerals and fibre that they provide. A diet rich in vegetables will decrease the chance of cancer, diabetes and many other health complications.

For me, maintaining a healthy balance means making food that tastes as good as the benefits it provides.

I’ve developed the perfect recipe for roasting up delicious vegetables quickly. This blend of spices has the aroma and flavours of a warming winter meal.

You will need:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano

This combo of oils and spices can be used with any combination of your favourite vegetables, but here are my favourites for a roast:

  • Turnip
  • Beetroot
  • Leek
  • White Onion
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts

To prepare, just chop the vegetables into desired sizes, cover in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary and oregano.

Cook for 35 minutes at 200˚C and enjoy!

4 ingredient Vegan Choc-Peanut Cookies… that actually taste good

Hello and happy hump day!

Today I thought I’d share with you my favourite 4-ingredient cookie recipe. It’s perfect for whipping up on a Sunday night, so you have healthy treats to enjoy throughout the week.

Now that we’re getting cooler weather in Sydney (and by cold I mean the weather has changed to 22C/71F, but that’s freezing for Sydney Siders), it’s lovely to have some healthy comfort food. Comfort food is so important for balance, but I love options that make me feel good after as well.

This recipe uses substitutes sugar for bananas, to get a sweet tang and also a fudgy texture. The peanut butter gives that nutty, salty crunch which makes them so delectable.

It’s important to use natural peanut butter (just peanuts with a little bit of salt) to reap all the fantastic benefits that peanut butter brings – high protein, fibre, healthy fats and magnesium for bone and muscle fortification.

The Four Ingredients: 2 ripe bananas, 1/4 cup creamy organic crunchy peanut butter, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup roughly chopped organic dark chocolate.

Method:

Mix bananas, peanut butter, and oats in a bowl. Once a dough forms, stir through chocolate chunks (feel free to eat the mixture here… it’s almost better than the cookies themselves).

Roll mixture into small balls on a lined baking tray to bake. Bake for 10 minutes at 200C/390F.

Nutrition per serving:

Serves 8
200 Calories
6g Protein
21g Carbs
5g Sugar
12g Fat

ENJOY!

What are you favourite, simple treat recipes? Comment below! I’d love to know.

Avocado Brownies? You’re missing out if you haven’t had these

There’s no denying that avocado is the best breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack food available. But who says it can’t be used as a dessert?

Recently I have been playing around with avocado based desserts, and I took inspiration from a post I saw for brownies made for the Ketogenic diet (high fat/protein, low carb).

I ended up modifying the recipe – more towards my taste preferences – and since I’m not following the keto diet, I did add in some honey (which you might want to swap for monk fruit or stevia, if you are looking for lower carb options).

I will admit my first go was very underwhelming. I completely missed the mark on the sweetness, so brownies tasted more like buttery dirt.

But, practice makes perfect, and after many flops I have formulated a avo-brownie recipe that is undeniably healthy. You will need:

  1. 1 medium avocado
  2. 1/4 cup nut butter – I love peanut Mayver’s butter
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  5. 1/2 cup cacao powder
  6. Cinnamon
  7. 1 tsp baking soda
  8. 3 tbsp cacao nibs
  9. 2 tbsp warm honey (less sticky)

Mix everything (except cacao nibs) together in a blender until it is smooth and creamy, and press into a brownie pan. Sprinkle the cacao nibs and cinnamon on top.

Pop into an oven at 180˚C and bake for 20 mins.

Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Macro-nutrients1 serving of avo-brownie
(recipe makes 12)
Calories150
Protein4g
Carbohydrates7g
Sugar3g
Fat12g

Chocolate ‘Nice-cream’ For Breakfast (Vegan)

My latest obsession is “nice-cream.” It’s as creamy and delicious as regular ice cream, but it has all the health benefits as well.

If you don’t know what nice cream is, let me help you. It’s a rich, creamy concoction that tastes like ice cream but is made from all the good stuff. It has 32g of protein, and 1g of sugar.

After many mornings whizzing up different blends, I’ve finally mastered my chocolate mousse nice cream. It’s ultimately an ultra filling dessert, but you can also eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

You will need: 

  • 1 chopped, frozen banana (I like to buy about 5 bananas at the start of the week, and then chop and freeze them all at once to save time). 
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder 
  • 30g Amazonia Raw Protein (chocolate or vanilla flavour works well)
  • 0.5 tbsp cinnamon (did you know cinnamon curbs sugar cravings?)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

And that’s it! Just blend until you get a thick, creamy consistency. You might have blend a little, stir it, and then blend some more to make it all come together.

I top with different things every day. My favourites lately have been lower glycemic fruits like chopped apple, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and then sunflower seeds or cacao nibs for some crunch!

Nutrition Facts

Here’s the macronutrient breakdown compared to 2 scoops of regular chocolate gelato:

Bowl of Chocolate
Nice-Cream
Chocolate Gelato
Calories320444
Protein32g8g
Fat16g28g
Carbs37g42g
Sugar 1g40g
Fibre8g0g

Food Places you MUST try in Byron Bay, Australia

Last week I travelled with my best friend to Byron Bay – a beachside town in New South Wales, Australia, known for it’s laid back beach & hippie culture. We purposely booked this trip over Valentines Day, as a cheeky ‘romantic’ getaway for the two of us.

I’ve traveled with friends and family to Byron many times, but this was the first time I noticed HOW DELICIOUS and diverse all the food options were.

They have everything – vegan cafes, vegetarian restaurants, chocolaterie’s, wholefood cafes, Egyptian cuisine, fancy bars, Contemporary Australian cuisine, Indian takeaway, Asian fusion, Japanese dining, pizza and pasta… the list goes on.

What I was especially amazed by was how easy it was to eat healthy. With green juices, fresh coconuts, protein balls, fresh fruit, and superfood slices, on offer all over the place, I was spoiled for choice.

Breakfast

Safya Cafe

Safya Cafe serves Egyptian inspired dishes, in a beautiful spot where the ocean breeze flows right in. We went here three times for breakfast (because I could not get enough of their avo/dukkah toast & dandelion latte), but they also do a delicious lunch and dinner menu.

Bayleaf Cafe

If you want to enjoy the contemporary Australian brunch scene, head to Bayleaf. They offer all-day brekkie options in a beach-shack setting. Think house-made bircher, corn fritter stacks, and dill/salmon eggs. The place was packed for a reason.

Lunch/Dinner

Balcony Bar & Oyster Co

$1.50 oyster specials, daily sunset happy hour, live music, and $12 Espresso Martini’s – you can’t say no. Obviously we went for the oyster deal and then finished the night with an abundance of cocktails, a King Crab Salad and Lamb/Beef Pappardelle.

The Mez Club

We booked this for the night of Valentine’s day and readied ourselves for a Mediterranean feast. O went all out and ordered the Share Mezze Platter (for herself..), which hosted kofte balls, hummus, pita bread, oven-roasted tomatoes, falafels and more. I went for two dishes; stuffed bell peppers (with basmati rice/whipped fetta/dukkah) and the lamb kofte balls. Safe to say both were delightful.

Dessert

Byron is known for organic/wholefood food spots that do mouth-watering raw treats like vegan strawberry cream and caramel donuts. Check out Combi and Fundies Wholefood Cafe if that’s your thing.

However, if I’m having dessert I’m always going to have chocolate or ice cream. Safe to say we had more than our fair share of In The Pink gelato that week.

They are constantly introducing eclectic flavours like strawberry chocolate fudge, Nutella caramel, Gingerbread, and Orange Sorbet. On the last night I treated myself to a double scoop of chocolate fudge and Nutella caramel.

xx

P.s. if chocolate is your thing – be sure to check out Love Byron Bay – Crêperie & Chocolate Boutique.

Rich Chocolate Protein Bites (V)

This summer I’ve been seeking out protein balls/bites/bars wherever I go. This could be due to my constant snack cravings, or because they are freaking moreish.

Either way, my recent obsession has prompted the careful creation of a rich, chocolatey recipe that combines all my favourite protein ball ingredients in one.

Cacao is a dream ingredient because of all the health benefits it provides. Not only it is a powerful source of antioxidants, I recently found out it contains anandamide, which targets receptors in the brain to balance mood swings.

This makes 10 bites:

You will need:

To make: Combine all ingredients in a bowl, squish it into a square pan and chill in the fridge.

To serve, you can make cute little designs on the square bites, e.g. with almonds, desiccated coconut, crumbled peanuts, or whatever floats your boat.

These little guys have around 10g of protein in them.. yet they taste like chocolate cookie dough. ENJOY!

Do you have a protein treat you swear by?