Friday, 30 September 2016

CHOCOLATE CHIA PROTEIN MOUSSE

Always have that craving for something sweet after meals or fancy some chocolate for breakfast (I'm guilty of this every single day dw)?
Then try whizzing up my protein mousse, which is not only incredibly nourishing due to all it's healthy fats but also tastes delicious and will keep you full and satisfied for hours.

The secret ingredient in this dish is avocado, which gives an amazingly light and creamy texture. As if avocado alone wasn't good enough, making it into a thick, velvety chocolate mousse transforms it into the best craving killer!


Topped with blueberries, edible pansies and a dusting of coconut sugar

INGREDIENTS:
(serves 1 hungry guy or gal or 2 people with a normal appetite..)

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use Vivo Life raw cacao PERFORM)
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • Pinch of pink himalayan salt
  • 1 frozen ripe banana (optional but if you like things quite sweet I'd recommend it)
  • 2 tbsp Wyldsson healthy nutella (this is a spread made from cashews, hazelnuts, cocoa and dates but if you don't have it you can sub for 2 dates and 2tbsp nut butter of choice. I can't promise the sub will be as good but I guess it's better than nothing. I tried almond butter before and it just tasted burnt so I wouldn't recommend that! Cashew butter is probably your best bet)


Topped with cacao nibs and almond butter 

METHOD:
Blend in a food processor such as a Nutribullet until smooth and creamy.
You may have to stop a few times and scrape down the sides as well as add a bit more liquid if you're struggling to get it going.

Transfer to a bowl (if you can manage not to eat it straight out the blender) and then add your favourite toppings!

As always, if you try it then do let me know - tag me on Instagram @jesssriv as I'd love to see how you get on!


Jess x


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CACAO vs COCOA – why make the swap?

Firstly, you may be wondering what the difference is between these two products so I’ll start by saying that cocoa is the processed version of cacao and it’s what you’ll find in commercial chocolate bars and baked goods. Cocoa is what’s formed when you roast raw cacao at high temperatures, resulting in a product with a significantly lower nutritional value.

So if you’re now reaching for that Dairy Milk bar and thinking ‘I don’t really give a toss that cocoa is processed’, then read on!

To be honest, if you’re consuming pure cocoa powder, then in my opinion, it’s not necessarily the fact it’s processed that’s the issue. The real problem is that cocoa is almost always used in products that contain lots of other additives, such as high quantities of sugar and hydrogenated oils. But the biggest downside in my eyes, is that you’re missing out on all the benefits of the incredible superfood, cacao.

"Dark Sugars" chocolate shop, Brick Lane aka where dreams come true


Benefits of cacao

Numerous studies have shown raw cacao to have the following benefits:

HEART HEALTH - cacao can contribute to healthy levels of nitric oxide, which can help dilate blood vessels and result in:
Lower blood pressure
Lower risk of stroke
Lower LDL cholesterol 
Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
Lower insulin resistance

POTENT ANTIOXIDANT - cacao is believed to contain the highest level of antioxidants per 100g of any food, including blueberries and acai.
Antioxidants help repair free radical damage, which occurs in everyday life but is extremely high in those that work in busy cities, such as London – basically working in LDN = excuse to eat aaall the raw cacao you can get your hands on..!

HIGH FIBRE - I don't think the benefits of high fibre need much of an explanation... *insert smiling shit emoji*

RICH SOURCE OF MINERALS - cacao provides one of the highest sources of magnesium you can find in a food, as well as supplying us with potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese.

APHRODISIAC - need I say more? Whack out those cacao chocolates and cue Marvin Gaye Let's Get It On.. 

BRAIN FUNCTION - high levels of flavanols in cacao have been demonstrated to increase cognitive function 

MOOD BOOSTER - cacao can increase levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happier. This would explain why PMT is reduced with chocolate - I'm sure most females can relate! And if you're not female and don't fancy getting shouted at for things that are not your fault once a month, then stock up on the dark chocolate and have it at the ready for her!



How to use cacao

There is literally not a day that goes by when I don’t use cacao in some form. Whether it’s as a powder, in chocolate, as cacao nibs or baked into sweet or even savoury foods, I absolutely love its rich taste and as mentioned above, the benefits of incorporating it into your diet are pretty amazing.

Creamy raw cacao oatmeal 

My favourite way of using it would have to be in my morning zoats or oatmeal as above, where I add ½-1 tbsp of cacao depending on how rich I want the flavour. Other ways of using it are:

  • Hot chocolate – replace your usual powder with 1tsp cacao and if you want it a bit sweeter, add 1tsp coconut sugar too
  • Raw chocolate e.g. the raw chocolate company
  • Raw chocolate covered food e.g. raw chocolate covered almonds, cacao cinnamon kale chips
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate cakes
  • Raw cacao smoothies 
  • Chocolate chilli – you’ll have to trust me on this one but try adding 1tbsp cacao into your usual beef chilli recipe and it will transform your dish from basic to next level in no time
  • Cacao nibs added on top of breakfast bowls, yoghurt or as smoothie toppings

My sweet oat crepe topped with kefir, granola, chia & cacao nibs


Where can I get cacao?

Cacao has now become readily available in lots of health food shops such as Whole Foods, Holland & Barrett and even some large supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbuys.


If you have any favourite recipes that you like using cacao in or any particular products you love then let me know in the comments below as I'd love to check them out too.

Jess x



References

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Thursday, 29 September 2016

3 TIPS FOR GETTING AND STAYING ON TRACK

If you've hit a plateau, lost that passion you once had for getting to the gym and eating well or if you've just thought about mixing up your current regime but don't know where to start, I've tried to put together my top 3 tips that might help to get you back on track and stay there.


1. Do what YOU enjoy, not what's trending

It might be all the rage to hit the spin studio and move those legs as fast as you can to pumping music in a pitch black room or maybe you feel like you should be jumping on a treadmill and sprinting away while someone screams at you to up the incline... However, just because these are the latest gym fads, doesn't mean you have to follow them if you don't enjoy them.

Personally, I despise lengthy cardio sessions and hate running so can't think of anything worse than putting myself through the above! Equally, I was brainwashed into thinking that lifting as heavy weights as possible was the only way to get those 'booty gains', when in reality, maybe I don't feel like squatting more than my own body weight and risking injury... 

What I'm trying to say is that you're much more likely to stick to something if you enjoy it and this may not even necessarily be in the gym. It could be anything from hill walking to swimming – just find an activity you love and you'll start to do it because you want to, not because you feel you have to.  


2. Meal prep

This has been a saving grace for me with my busy lifestyle. At first I was shocked of the thought of eating chicken that had sat in my fridge for 3 days but during the week when you come home ravenous it’s SO handy to be able to open the fridge and have healthy food available for you to avoid you making bad yet convenient fast food choices. 

However, if you only prepare one meal a day, I would suggest making it your lunchbox. The lunch break is a period where you're often extremely hungry and short on time. 

Unfortunately, shop bought lunches are often filled with lots of hidden ingredients, which can suddenly ramp up your sugar, fat and calorie intake for the day, despite it being advertised as a ‘healthy salad’. So try to take a prepared lunch to work instead of panic buying something from a nearby shop or always heading for your favourite take out. This will not only save you from making an unhealthy choice but also save you a lot of money and give you a bit more time to relax in your lunch hour.

Preparing your own meals allows you to know exactly what goes into your food and you can often make it much more nutritious than anything you'll find in a shop. If I meal prep throughout the week then it also gives me freedom to enjoy meals out with family and friends on the weekend without taking too much of a back step on my nutrition and fitness goals. 

Lastly, meal prep doesn't have to be boring! Below is an example of my typical lunchbox - thai marinated chicken breast, roasted broccoli and homemade cauliflower, potato and butterbean curry with fresh parsley (and a cheeky energy ball for dessert)! 

I will do some blog posts in the future for meal prep ideas, which taste just as good, if not better, on the third day of eating it as they did on the first! 

My typical lunchbox (description in text above)


3. Baby steps and consistency 

Firstly, it's so important to try and remember not to compare your chapter 1 to someone else's chapter 20. Seeing that perfect set of abs on Instagram makes it so tempting to just go in like a bull in a china shop and make drastic changes to your lifestyle, expecting it to miraculously give you that dream body. But unfortunately, the story behind the picture is usually not told and it often takes years of experimenting with different training styles and diets to find what works for you before you will start seeing results.

If you’ve never exercised before, don’t suddenly start going to the gym 6 times a week. Maybe start with 2-3 times a week and build up your strength and endurance slowly. Running before you can walk, so to speak, will only leave you with reduced recovery time, sore muscles and most likely a negative mind set surrounding the gym!

Similarly with diet, I see SO many people with a lunch of a few shreds of iceberg lettuce and tin of tuna thinking that’s the key to weight loss or fat loss. This is so extreme and more importantly SO unnecessary. I would never advocate such a thing as you’ll likely be starving by the evening and binge on anything you can get your hands on! 

In my experience, consistently eating a balanced diet of wholesome, nourishing foods at every meal has been crucial to seeing the results I've been striving for. I personally eat carbs at every meal as it keeps my blood sugar stable and provides satiety but there are numerous schools of thought. One thing I will say though is that carbs are NOT the enemy and will not 'make you fat' as many myths would have you believe. Cutting out essential food groups like this can often do more harm than good and lead to undesirable consequences in the future, such as metabolism damage. I plan on doing a blog post focusing on all things carbs with one of my good friends, who is an experienced dietician, as it's such a misleading concept that so many people unfortunately still believe. 

My advice would be to start with making small food swaps.
Firstly, identify your vice - What is your weakness? What do you constantly reach for in times of stress or boredom? What do you have every day that you think you could do without?
When you are able to identify this, see if you can consume healthier options of your vices, but do so one at a time so that it's not a huge change at once:
  • mayonnaise or salad cream for avocado (high in heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium and fibre)
  • store bought sliced white bread for freshly baked sourdough or rye loaves (higher in fibre and lower in additives)
  • biscuits for a handful of nuts or seeds (high in essential vitamins and minerals and much lower in sugar!)
  • store bought milk chocolate bar for unrefined dark chocolate (raw if possible e.g. those from the raw chocolate company, which contain raw cacao - the unprocessed version of cocoa. As mentioned in my blog post about cacao, which you can read here, it is bursting full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and can help lower blood pressure and increase mood boosting serotonin. If you really can't stand the taste of dark chocolate, try a sugar free variety with extra benefits such as this Ohso probiotic chocolate)
If theses tips on healthier swaps are useful then send me an email or comment below if you would like a separate blog post on this and I can expand on a whole range of easy swaps. 

The main message is find what works for you because if it doesn't then you won't stick to it, period. The key is not to go to extremes, especially with diet, because you’ll get bored and hungry or even worse, hangry! Most of us are guilty of making an alteration to our lifestyle and expecting instant results, when in reality it takes at least 2-4 weeks to see change. So make small, sustainable adjustments, be consistent and not too judgmental on yourself and I promise you it will all pay off.  

Jess x



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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

ZOATS

So if you follow me on Instagram (if not, why not), you will know that literally every other photo is a photo of my breakfast and 9.5 times out of 10, that breakfast is zoats! 

It is without doubt my favourite meal of the day and even when I try and stray away from the norm, I always regret it as nothing leaves me as full and satisfied than a big bowl of egg white protein zoats!

Matcha & pistachio: with aaall the toppings (chocolate in multiple forms!)

The addition of zucchini (aka courgette in the UK) and egg whites to a normal bowl of proats (protein oats) makes your average bowl of porridge seem as basic bitch as a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.

Egg whites and zucchini make the dish much more filling, gives it an incredible texture and also adds an extra portion of vegetables into your day - what more could you ask of from a one bowl breakfast?! 

Strawberry and cacao: with chocolate, seeds and fresh strawbs 

You'll also notice that most of my zoats are green as I love to add spirulina and wheatgrass to them. For me, I don't notice the taste at all as I'm so used to it but for some people the taste can be overpowering. I love adding these powders to provide me with a heap of extra nutrients and fibre - again keeping me fuller for longer, which is crucial when I'm on the go at work all morning and the last thing I want to be doing is feeling hungry! 

(I'll also do a blog post in the future about why I started including these two components into my every day breakfast, along with the benefits of using them and the differences I've noticed in myself with continued use - so keep an eye out for that!)

So without further ado, below you will find my basic recipe (+/- greens), which you can play around with and change the flavour of depending on your mood. Of course, it's all about the toppings too. So I've added a list of my favs below, but again you can be as experimental or as safe as you like with these and adjust them according to your goals. 


Pumpkin spice: with frozen raspberries, almond butter, granola & hemp



PROTEIN EGG WHITE ZOATS
(Serves 1)

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 grated zucchini (courgette) 
3/4 cup (65g) oats of choice
1/2 cup almond milk
Splash of water
1 tsp coconut oil (optional)
2-3tbsp Two Chicks liquid egg whites OR 2 chia eggs if vegan OR or 1-2 egg whites if separating whole eggs
1tsp ground cinnamon 
1 scoop of protein powder of choice (Vivo Life raw cacao PERFORM  is my fav)

Optional:
1/2tsp Kaizen Living organic spirulina powder
1tsp Kaizen Living organic wheatgrass powder
1tsp sweeter of choice (stevia, honey, maple syrup, agave etc.)

Flavour ideas:
Ground ginger
Ground cardamom
Raw cacao powder 
Maca powder
Lalani & Co matcha powder
Baobab powder
Acai powder
Raw vanilla bean

Topping ideas:
Fresh, frozen or dried fruit e.g. sliced apple, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, goji berries
Seeds e.g. sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flaxseed
Nuts
Muesli or granola 
Yoghurt - I love using coconut yoghurt 
Hemp hearts 
Cacao nibs 
Bee pollen
Chocolate - I usually use 100% cacao chocolate or Ohso probiotic chocolate (code ohsojess16 will get you 15% off)
Nut butter - Pip and Nut almond butter is my fav!


METHOD:
1. Place the courgette, oats, milk, water and coconut oil in a pan and bring contents to the boil. 

2. Reduce to a simmer and stir frequently for about 5 minutes - this is what helps to create a creamy texture and also ensures the zoats don't stick to the base of the pan.

3. Once cooked, turn off the heat and add the egg whites. As soon as you add them, stir vigorously until well combined for about 10-20 seconds to avoid the eggs scrambling.
The egg whites will add an amazing creamy texture and help bind the whole dish together.

4. Add the cinnamon and protein powder. 
Depending on what type of protein powder you use you may need to add more liquid. Vegan protein powders need more liquid than whey and in comparison, beef protein needs barely any liquid.

5. Add the greens if using - I find greens powders are fairly bitter so I usually add some stevia drops to sweeten it up.
However, if using whey protein you may not need the stevia as it is naturally a sweet protein.

6. Choose your flavour! I usually add a few powders from the list above - my current flavour combo is chilli chocolate, which is a mix of raw cacao, ground ginger, cardamom and a pinch of chilli! 

7. Pour into a bowl and add toppings - as you can see from photos, I don't usually hold back on this stage!

8. ENJOY! If you try this recipe, I'd love to know how you get on so upload a photo to Instagram and tag me @jesssriv :-)


Adding a pinch of kelp powder for a little saltiness & extra nutrient boost


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