Sweet Summer Superfood Salad

Salad… What pops up in your mind when you think of salad?

Most people would probably say boring, restrictive diet food. And they would be 100% correct if all they know is salads made only with lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

I absolutely love salads! I could even go as far and say that salads are my favourite meals. But not simple salads. I love rich and wholesome ones. The kind that have everything inside from dried fruits, seeds and nuts to leafy greens, organic cheeses and even crackers.

So, to help ignite your perhaps dormant passion for salads, I’d like to share one of my favourite superfood salad recipes (and yes, there are many! :))

Ingredients

Salad base

  • Lettuce and salad leaves
  • Baby Spinach leaves
  • Cucumber
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Apple cut into cubes
  • Avocado
  • Dried fruits; Raisins, Cranberries, Goji berries (you can put a little of each)
  • Figs (fresh is best but dried will also do)
  • Pomegranate
  • Organic goat’s cheese
  • Mixed seeds
  • Walnuts

Salad dressing

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tsp organic honey

Method

  1. Firstly, take out your favourite bowl.
  2. Cook the quinoa.
  3. Wash all the fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  4. Put the lettuce, salad leaves and spinach at the bottom of the bowl as a base.
  5. Then add the cooked quinoa.
  6. Cut up all the fruits and veg and start layering them on top.
  7. Add the nuts and sprinkle the seeds on top.
  8. Finish off by pouring the simple dressing over the whole salad.
  9. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, look at your creation, admire it, marvel at it, be grateful for it and Enjoy every single bite!

Tips on how to get started with Intermittent Fasting

Hello my beautiful darlings,

I am absolutely thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response that I received from my previous post about intermittent fasting. So many of you have expressed interest in trying the 16/8 method that I recommended. So, in an effort to help you get started, I’ve put together a brief post on little tips and tricks that you can try in order to give you the best chance of succeeding with intermittent fasting. Hope you enjoy!

Start here

The first thing I’d like to say to anyone new to fasting is to take it easy. We’ve grown up predominantly in a society which encourages the consumption of three main meals, the first being shortly after we wake up in the morning. Only recently have we began questioning the reasoning and logic behind this. So don’t pressure yourself to master this “new” way of eating. Just like any habit change it will take some time and patience. To make things easier you can try;

  1. Start gradually: Try fasting for 12 hours and gradually increase your fasting time to 16 hours. So for example, say you finish your evening meal at 9pm, try not having anything (except water, herbal tea or black coffee) until 9am the next day. Then gradually begin delaying the breaking of the fast to 10am then 11am etc.
  2. Drink water: It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger. Start your day with a large glass or two of plain water. Not only does this kick start your metabolism, hydrate you after the many hours of not consuming liquids but it also gives you a feeling of fullness due to the stretching of the stomach which then suppresses the hunger hormone.
  3. Drink black coffee: Black coffee is an excellent appetite suppressant. Studies have shown that people who drink black coffee on average eat less food, have lower blood sugar levels and are at less risk of developing diabetes. Don’t go overboard with the coffee though, I’d recommend no more than 2 cups per day.
  4. Drink your coffee slowly: I can drink one americano for 4-5 hours! Just keep the cup at your desk and whenever you remember just take a sip of coffee followed by 2-3 sips of water. Call me crazy but this ratio works wonders! The bitter taste of the coffee kills off any appetite for food and the water after that tastes almost sweet.
  5. Do not have absolutely anything that contains calories during the fasting period (not even a bite): This is extremely important. Ever heard of the saying “Appetite comes with the food” ? Well this applies 100% here. For example, say that at around 11 am I ate 2 strawberries. I guarantee that by 11:30 am I will be ravenously hungry. While if I didn’t eat the two strawberries I could go until 4/5pm without even being hungry. So unless you’re having a meal do not eat anything because it will just make you hungry. This means no snacks. Who even invented snacks?
  6. Keep your mind focused (on something other than food):The beauty of fasting is that it frees up so much of your time so that you can focus on your work, studies or hobbies. For those with too much free time it may be a little more difficult. Especially in the beginning, you may find yourself thinking about food which is completely normal, and trying to block out those thoughts is just plain exhausting so the easier way is to just focus on something else, and focus on that something else fully.
  7. Be flexible: What I love about the 16/8 method is that it’s so flexible! As long as you make sure that there 16 hours of fasting every single day you can play around with the exact timings of your meals. For example, say that I have brunch at 11 am on Sunday, in order to make sure I still fast for 16 hours I will finish my evening meal by 7 pm on Saturday night.

 

Hope this has been helpful and feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below!

 

Happy fasting!

 

The miracle of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting, prolonged fasting, religious fasting … chances are you’ve heard of fasting before. The topic tends to spark a lot of confusion and perhaps may trigger images of emaciated individuals or yogis meditating on a mountain top in your mind when you think of it. So the aim of this post is to somewhat clear the confusion surrounding the topic, give you the top 5 health benefits of intermittent fasting and provide some solid reasons as to why I think you should try it!

What is intermittent fasting?

In very basic terms, fasting allows you to burn your own excess body fat. Intermittent fasting therefore refers to doing this at set recurring intervals. It is important to know that this is completely natural and that your body does this even without you being aware of it. When you sleep at night you are essentially fasting that’s why the first meal you have when you wake up is called breakfast, you are breaking your fast.

Body fat is merely stored energy from previously eaten food. So when you’re not eating, your body is “eating” its own fat for energy. You can probably already guess some health benefits associated with that! But more on the health benefits a little later, let’s first look at some different fasting styles.

Different intermittent fasting styles

Intermittent fasting is essentially a pattern of eating. The specifics of the pattern vary with each of the different forms however they all have one thing in common and that is a cycle of eating followed by a cycle of not eating. There are many different forms of intermittent fasting but here are a few of the most common ones.

The 16/8 Method: This is by far the most common fasting style. Essentially you have an 8-hour eating window followed by 16 hours of not eating anything (sleeping is included in the fasting hours). This is the method that I use most commonly although I alternate between the warrior diet and this method quite frequently. So, for example, what I do when I follow the 16/8 method is I stop eating at 9pm and have absolutely nothing (except water and black coffee) until 1pm the next day. So basically skipping breakfast. You can play this out however you want, you can skip dinner if you prefer. The key is to have 16 hours of eating absolutely nothing and eating all your meals within an 8-hour period.

For women, this is the preferred method of fasting as it has been shown that women do better on it when compared to the others. This is mainly due to women being more sensitive to ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

For people who are hungry in the morning, this may take some time to get used to while on the other hand, many breakfast skippers will find that this way of eating comes instinctively to them.

The Warrior Diet: This is my next favourite form of intermittent fasting. The warrior diet is basically eating one large meal a day within a 4-hour window. You can eat a small amount of fruit or vegetables during the day and you have one large meal in the evening.

The arrangement is essentially 20 hours fasting and 4 hours feasting.

What I love most about this style of fasting is the mental focus I achieve when I do it. You see, when you eat your body goes into “Rest and digest” mode which means that it’s expending a large amount of your total energy on digesting your food while only a small amount is left to perform other tasks. This is usually why many people feel less productive during the afternoon. So not eating anything, or just having one or two small fruits during the day means that you have the majority of your body’s total energy available to use in productive ways.

The 5:2 Diet: This is when you eat normally for 5 days of the week and fast for 2 days. In the 2 days of fasting, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, while men 600 calories. This form of fasting was popularised by Michael Mosley, a British journalist and doctor. For example, this can mean that you eat normally on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday while on Tuesday and Thursday you have only two very small meals of 250 calories each.

Alternate-day Fasting: This is where you fast every other day. Some people either fast completely (i.e. eat nothing at all the whole day) while others choose to consume up to 500 calories on fasting days.

Eating nothing at all every other day is rather extreme so I would not recommend this form of fasting for beginners or for prolonged periods of time.

Eat-stop-Eat method: This method involves doing a 24-hour fast once or twice per week. The way you can play this out is for example by finishing your dinner at 7 pm on Tuesday night and eating nothing again until 7 pm on Wednesday night.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  1. Weight-loss and improved fat burning – When you don’t eat your serum insulin levels drop and when this happens your body can tap into your fat storages for energy. This means that you are using your own body fat for energy rather than the food that you eat. As you can imagine, this results in fat loss.
  2. Improved mental clarity and concentration – As mentioned previously, when your body isn’t using its energy to digest food you have access to a large amount of your body’s total energy to use for productive purposes. This for me is one of the most important reasons to fast as I love the feeling of mental clarity.
  3. Reversal of type-2 diabetes – This is major! Science is just beginning to recognise how important fasting can be in preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes.
  4. Increased growth hormone – Many people believe that if you fast you may lose your muscle mass and therefore think they need to eat every 2-3 hours. Research however, says otherwise. Scientific studies suggest that periods of fasting are followed by a surge of increased growth hormone.
  5. Lowered blood sugar and cholesterol levels – When you are in a fasted state your blood sugar levels are maintained at a low level and your cholesterol levels are also lowered.

 

 

 

Recommendation

If you’re new to fasting and want to give it a go I would recommend by starting with the 16/8 method listed above. Alternatively, you can start with a 12 hour fasting period and gradually increase it to 16 hours. This is the most gentle form of intermittent fasting which can be safely maintained over a long period of time.

Also, remember that this isn’t unnatural and you’re not starving yourself. Humans have evolved to thrive on periods of fasting. What’s unnatural is eating every 2 or so hours. Not only is it not good for your health but it also takes so much time of your day just thinking about food, preparing food and eating food that could be used for other purposes.

Give your digestive system and body a break to experience the healing effect of intermittent fasting.

Healthiest Açaí Bowl Recipe

Açaí bowls have become increasingly popular around the world as a healthy breakfast or snack. It is, without a doubt, its delicious taste and excellent nutritional profile that are making these bowls of goodness so irresistible.

There has been a debate on whether Açaí bowls are actually good for you when eaten on a regular basis. This is due to their inherent high sugar content. Yes, the regular Açaí bowl is a bit heavy on sugar, however it is also very heavy on nutrition. It is packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are all essential for health.

As for the sugar, steps can be taken to help balance out the dish. These include; incorporating healthy fats, swapping high sugar fruits with lower in sugar fruits and not adding additional sources of sugar such as honey, agave syrup etc.

Read along to discover the healthiest Açaí bowl that compromises neither on taste nor nutrition.

Health benefits of Açaí bowls

  • High in antioxidants – The Açaí berry has been shown to have a very high antioxidant content. In many of the studies, its content is higher than that of other berries such as; raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
  • Healthy digestive system– Açaí berries are also have a high fibre content (3-4g per 100g). Fibre ensures an optimally functioning digestive system.
  • Beautiful, glowing skin – The high antioxidant content along with the many other micronutrients contained within the Açaí berry are known to have powerful anti-ageing properties. By reducing oxidative damage, the skin is better able to repair and regenerate revealing healthy glowing skin.
  • Helps protect against chronic noncommunicable diseases – The Açaí berry also has anti-inflammatory properties. Along with the high fibre, phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals, it may help to prevent diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • Aids weight loss – The Açaí berry has been shown to affect appetite hormones there reducing appetite. It may therefore be used to aid weight loss.
  • Improves cognitive function – The antioxidant an anti-inflammatory properties of the açaí berry are key components of its effect on memory and cognition. In a process that suppresses biological activity which degrades cellular integrity, açaí berries appear to have a protective effect on brain cells.

 

Recipe

Ingredients:

Base

  • Açaí paste (1 sachet)
  • 1/2 banana
  • Unsweetened nut milk (almond is best)
  • Frozen berries
  • Protein powder

 

 

 

 

Toppings 

  • Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries etc.)
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecan, brazil nuts etc.)
  • Seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds etc.)
  • Banana slices (no more than 4-5 thin slices)
  • Pomegranate

Method

  1. Put all base ingredients into the blender and blend. The resultant mixture should be a thick paste consistency.
  2. Pour the paste into a bowl and decorate with the toppings
  3. Enjoy! 🙂