Kung Fu Café
Since 2011

Three-Tier Chocolate Oreo Cake | Birthday Celebrations

Last weekend was the birthday of a good Crossfit friend and training buddy. She’s famous for her Oreo cheesecake, so of course, the best way to celebrate was with an Oreo cake! :)

One of her good friends arranged a meal out at one of her favourite places. I said I’d make a cake, and got to it. She ended up with two cakes, because her friend was concerned that mine may not be big enough to feed all of the people at the meal, but it was THAT BIG that it did!

Geraint said that it was the best cake he ever had (yep, I had permission to put this on my blog as a direct quote :) ), so if you’re looking for a good party cake that’ll go down well with everyone (I mean, who doesn’t like Oreos?), then here’s the cake!

However, I was faced with a predicament. How can I get photos of the inside of the cake without cutting the cake? I can’t give my friend a cake with a massive slice missing! Plus, my brother, Tim, was desperate for some. So of course, I made TWO cakes!

I was going to make two two-tier cakes, but I wasn’t happy with the first batch of chocolate cakes I baked (maybe I didn’t mix the batter well enough and assume that there was still sugar in the bottom, so it seemed that the cake didn’t cook for long enough). But then after making the other two batches of cakes successfully, I put the first batch back in the oven to soak up the residual heat, and they seemed ok. And hence, I had two three-tier cakes! One of which I covered in white frosting (I do like contrast; usually with a white cake one expects the cake inside to be light, I suppose), and the other turned grey because of the Oreo crumbs I mixed in (it tasted amazingly but it looked like plaster or wallpaper paste!).

So my plan was to give a cake away to my friend for her birthday, and to have the other cake to give to various other people. But I ate so many Oreos whilst baking these cakes and got through spoonfuls of the frosting. If I could just eat a slice and be done with it, great, but I eat most of the cake in its raw and deconstructed form! Damnit!

I didn’t really have big hopes for this cake, but it was so soft and moist, and I put that down to the copious amount of sugar and the hot water. Just make sure that you put the hot water in last, because it’s just easier to make sure it’s all mixed that way and then you get great cakes from the oven. Last week I made the cake in Ed’s flat with his very retro oven, and the cake just didn’t work. Although I blame his oven for that (because I’ve had the same issues when baking cakes when I was there in February; it would cook the outside so quickly but the inside would remain raw…)! Ok, so they say that a bad workman always blames his tools, but this is such an essential tool!

So I ended up eating about half of the cake with my brother and I, gave some to someone at Crossfit, to my parents, to my four work colleagues, and a load to Ed when I went to Aberdeen for the Unconventional Gas conference. Everyone said it was great, and I agree; it was a tasty cake! The cake on its own was nice, but combined with the Oreo cream in the middle and the frosting on the outside was great. Definitely make sure you put cream in the middle, rather than frosting; it adds a completely different dimension and all of the all of the flavours just meld together.

A lot of people also asked me how I made it, to which I replied that it’s full of sugar! Everyone then referenced the BCC Horizon documentary that says that the most palatable combination is half sugar and half fat, and that’s how we get fat. No wonder the frosting tastes so good! It’s literally butter and sugar! This is just the visual representation of diabetes. Seriously. But I want to watch the programme myself; I presume there’s lot of pseudo-science going on in there, especially if their whole programme is only based on observations of twins eating stuff, then generalising it to a whole population. But anyway, I’ve not seen it yet, but hope to at some point!

The restaurant we went to was really nice. It’s South American food, so all of my favourites. Tim ordered a burrito and I ordered a spinach curry as it sounded a little different from the things I’d usually order. But of course, Tim and I remain disappointed, as we usually do, with food when we eat it. It’s so overpriced for what it is. I felt so sorry for poor Tim, because he was so looking forward to his beef-stuffed Burrito, but he was so disappointed and actually angered by the burrito. Lol.

Anyway, this is definitely a cake I will make again in the future. It’s absolutely delicious, and the Oreo tastes definitely comes through. And one thing I have noticed, is that when I post food on Facebook, people usually comment, and tell me in person that it looks great, which is lovely.

Two-Tier Chocolate Oreo Cake
Two Tiny Kitchens, AllRecipes, and BBC Good Food
Makes 2 x 9″ cakes

Ingredients
For the cake; 2 x 9″ cakes:
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 ¾ cups plain flour
• ¾ cup cocoa powder
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 ½ tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 x eggs
• ½ cup groundnut/peanut oil
• 2 tsp vanilla essence/extract
• 1 cup boiling water
• Oreos

For the filling; three-tier cake (two-tier cake):
• 284 ml double cream (190 ml double cream)
• 1 tbsp icing sugar (1 tbsp icing sugar)
• 4 tbsp Oreo crumbs (3 tbsp Oreo crumbs)
• 1 tsp vanilla (1 tsp vanilla)

For the icing/frosting; three-tier cake (two-tier cake):
• 1 ½ cups (172.5g) butter (1 cup butter)
• 8 cups icing sugar (5-6 cups icing sugar)
• ⅔ cup milk (⅓ cup milk)
• 2 tsp vanilla (1 tsp vanilla)

To decorate:
• Oreos!

Preparation
For the cake:
Separate a pack of Oreos. Put the Oreos with the vanilla filling still attached in the bottom of two silicon cake moulds or pre-lined baking tins, filling side up. Reserve the other side of the Oreo.

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Add the sugar and salt.

Then mix in the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix well until homogenised.

Then add in the hot water (make sure you mix all of the other ingredients first before adding the hot water, because it’s more difficult to mix and you’ll end up with a weirdly textured cake). Mix well until 100% homogenised. The batter will be very thin and runny.

In the meantime, use a food processor to grind the leftover Oreo shells into Oreo dust (it looks like dirt!). Or you could pop them in a resealable plastic bag, and bash them with a rolling pin until they’re crumb-like (just don’t split the bag!).

Pour the batter into the baking tins/moulds, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins/moulds.

For the filling:
Empty the cream into a bowl, and whip using an electric mixer/food processor/beater until thick. Add the vanilla, Oreo crumbs and icing sugar, and whip until combined.

For the frosting:
Just before you want to assemble and frost the cakes: sieve the icing sugar in a bowl and add in the milk. Mix until combined. Then melt the butter in a large Pyrex bowl in any residual heat in the oven (or you can turn the oven back on, or do it over the hob). Then add the vanilla and mix well until combined. Leave to return to a consistency that’s easy to handle/use.

Assembly:
When the cakes have cooled, remove from the mould/tin, and put it on a plate. Use the frosting to make a ring around the top of the cake (this is a sort of barried for the filling). Then spread the filling all over the top, and then gently place the other cake ontop. Then cover the whole cake in the frosting, and decorate as desired with Oreos, cookie crumbs, etc.

Enjoy with friends and a huge glass of whole milk. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Baked: 20.03.2014
Iced: 21.03.2014
Enjoyed: 22.03.2014

Two-Ingredient “Healthier” Pancakes with Nut Butter and Honey Sauce | Shrove Tuesday

Happy Shrove Tuesday everybody! Today is the last day before Lent (a time of abstinence before Easter Sunday), and so pancakes were eaten and indulged in as they contained all of the things that were forbidden during Lent (such as butter and eggs!).

Now sure, you’re probably saying “Pancake Day is always on a Tuesday and I’m just too busy to make pancakes before going to work.” So I’m going to show you a recipe with minimal ingredients for some really simple, but delicious, American-style pancakes! (I do love Crêpes, but that’s for another post :) ).

These pancakes use only two ingredients that are pretty much in everyone’s pantry. And to be honest, you can make these pancakes with just eggs and NOTHING else! Just follow the same recipe below, but leave out the flour portion. My brother and I go through phases where we have eggy-crêpes almost every morning with nut butters, fruits, sometimes leftover meat and maple syrup. Delicious!

For the past few months I’ve been eating lots of junk food. And I’ve put on weight! But I’ve also gained strength. I am a large advocate of the paleo diet; always have been, always will be (unless the scientific evidence proves otherwise). But I’ve always known that the paleo diet promotes health and is great for fat loss, whereas the Zone, for example, is something that focuses on performance. I know a few people down at CFP who have complained about a loss of energy when doing WODs when following a strict paleo diet. I do agree, from my own experience, that it’s great for daily energy levels and body composition, but personally, I think it did hinder my strength gains a little (it’s difficult to tell though, to be perfectly honest! It’s a combination of a lot of things, but I think that eating more calories, even from junk food, have helped to make me stronger). So I think, for me at least, a paleo diet with a few modifications (i.e. more carbs, perhaps? More general calories? But NOT just junk food full of sugar and wheat!) would suit me and my training well, and I think that these pancakes fit the bill!

There are lots of recipes I’ve found, paleo and otherwise, and some also call for many ingredients that I don’t feel are necessary. Most recipes that make the softest and fluffiest pancakes call for the fewest ingredients. Maybe when you understand the function of ingredients a little better you can alter things a bit to your tastes, likings and needs at the time.

You can replace the oats with other flours and ground things, like flax seeds, almond flour, coconut flour, oat flour, etc. It has the same effect although the texture may vary a little. Try is out to get your favourite flavour and texture! This recipe is similar to this paleo pancake recipe, although as the oats in this recipe cook and makes the pancakes slightly less eggy. Either way, they’re all delicious combinations, and there’s no point in me talking about it. Just try them out and decide for yourself which flavour combinations you prefer! :)

I love these pancakes with different fruits in the mixture, on top of the final pancake, cooked, raw, etc. I also love nut butters, syrups and honey, lemon juice, fruits, meats, etc. So good!

You can also freeze them, and to pop them in the toaster to reheat on really busy mornings!

Anyway, I took these photos a long time ago, and am pleased with how they came out! I still don’t know anything about anything when it comes to photography, but I remember trying to play with the backgrounds a little more than just having a plain ol’ white background (although easier to work with!).

I like to keep the backgrounds as simple as possible, because as an amateur, I find that the more elements there are in my frame, the more difficult it is to arrange something with a nice composition and flattering colours – at my level, the simpler, the better! And sometimes, simple photos are nicer, too, as I also dislike crowded photos with too many elements. I guess I get that minimalist side from my dad!

I’m pleased with the first photo in this post, because I think that it sets a scene, and I love photos that do that. It makes me think of someone’s worktop in a modern kitchen, who’s just prepared their pancakes whilst drinking OJ, quickly slapped some butter on top and has just turned around to pop something in the sink before taking their pancakes to the table to scoff before a busy day. :)

These photos have no post processing either (the same with all of my photos – only a few I’ve attempted to correct for white balance. I used to shoot in RAW as well as JPEG… but I stopped because I just don’t know what to do with a RAW file! All I know is that they take up a LOT of space! So when I learn how to use them, then I’ll start shooting in RAW again. I think I’m getting better at composition and food styling, as well as knowing which angle would complement the food better along with the type of lighting, even though I still don’t know what I’m doing with a camera on manual. At least my intuitive senses when working with light are getting better. More of my photos are being accepted by FoodGawker and Tastespotting (although just because they accept or reject a photo, doesn’t mean that your photography is good or bad… Emma Gardner has stopped submitting photos to these two sites), although I do have about four times as many photos rejected than I have had accepted. But it doesn’t bother me. I’m still proud of my photography progress, considering it’s only a hobby and not the focus of my life or career (for now!). Ironically, the very food photo I took with my DSLR was accepted by Foodgawker, even though I’d tried desperately to get something accepted using only a digital camera (I had previously with Tastespotting). So in that way, it is the camera that takes nice shots, and not the photographer! Hee hee ;)

Happy pancake-ing! I’ll be making them for breakfast AND dinner! ;) What will you have with yours?

Two-Ingredient “Healthier” Pancakes with Nut Butter and Honey Sauce
Syrup from: Southern Plate
Makes 6 pancakes

Ingredients
For the pancakes:
• 6 x eggs
• 6 heaped tbsps of rolled oats (or flax seed, coconut flour, almond flour… of course the texture of the final pancake will be different)

Optional extras for pancake batter:
• 5 tbsp milk (or coconut milk, almond milk, buttermilk…)
• 2 tsp vanilla essence
• dried fruit
• cinnamon
• toasted coconut
• nuts
• chocolate chips
• fruit (see below)
• bacon
• peanut butter

Fruit:
• banana
• blueberries
• nectarines
• strawberries
• cherries
• apples
• etc!

For the peanut butter sauce:
• crunchy peanut butter (or nut butter – or even chocolate or Nutella!)
• honey (use twice as much honey as there is butter)

Other optional syrups/sauces:
dulce de leche
• Nutella
• honey
• (whipped) double cream
• yoghurt

Preparation
For the pancakes:
Mix the eggs, oats, and any extras in a bowl until homogenised. Heat a large non-stick frying pan until hot, so that when the batter is dropped onto it, it sizzles. Use a large spoon to spoon on two dollops of pancake batter, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for about 4-6 minutes. Then use a spatula to flip and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Fruit preparation:
Chop up the fruit before making the pancakes. You can either incorporate the fruit raw into your pancakes or serve on the side, or you can fry in their own juices on low (or a little higher with some butter) and serve them on the side or incorporate into the pancake batter.

For the syrup/sauce:
Put the honey and butter in a non-stick milk pan, and continuously stir over a low heat until it all blends together and is nice and runny. If you would like a sauce, as opposed to a syrup, keeping cooking and stirring over a low heat until the syrup thickens into a sauce. Be careful not to overcook it though otherwise the texture will be dry and a little brittle.

Sunday treat: 04.08.2013

Deep Dish Paleo Berry Pie | An Ode to Pie

Ahh pie. So comforting. There’s nothing like burying your problems, woes, and tackling procrastination by tucking into a large serving of pie with a heavy helping of clotted cream (hmmm, on further introspection, this is not a healthy habit; I should do something about this)…

I can’t believe it’s the end of January already; I’ve never understood the cliché phrase “Where does the time go?” more at any point of my life than I do now. I guess being busy is a good sign, because it means that my glass is full, overflowing if you will.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, because I don’t believe that you need a new year to make goals. Why is a new year going to be any different to the previous one if you don’t make changes? Once the clock strikes midnight, and it’s no longer December 31st, but January 1st… how has your life changed in such a way that your goals are finally achievable?

What I’m trying to say, is that New Year’s resolutions are goals that you must have been holding dear to your heart and think of often, so why is it that overnight you can suddenly achieve your goals? Heck, you don’t even need a new week to start new goals and decide that you’re going to go for it. You just need a new moment, or the present. And I think that’s what commitment is; deciding that you want to achieve your goals at every new moment, rather just because it’s customary to do so at a particular time.

Anyway, the goals I am working towards, in no particular order (not resolutions, because these are things I’ve been working on for a while, and haven’t made just because it’s a new year!):
1. Start writing thesis;
2. Get better at running, rowing, and endurance-y stuff;
3. Get really strong!
4. Try my hardest to fit in Spanish studies;
5. Eat clean and to not be influenced by bad eating habits and the eating habits of others;
6. Be happy and continue my spiritual growth.

Last week, I had some good news with my PhD! I was in contact with a Japanese researcher, who invited me to study in his lab if I could obtain a JSPS Fellowship. However, Omya will not allow me to go because of patents, secrecy of research, etc. Nevermind! Perhaps this is something for a future endeavour. :) And I also received an email saying that I was “accepted” to present at a conference… in Hawaii! Well, I’ve made the first hurdle! My abstract was accepted, and now I need to hand in a manuscript, and from there, they’ll decide if they really do want me to present. But to be honest, I doubt I’ll be able to get adequate results in such a short space of time, and even if I was, I don’t think I’d obtain the funding to be able to go. This saddens me, however I will try my hardest, and if it doesn’t happen, then it just wasn’t meant to be.

Anyway, I still made time to post this pie recipe this week, and bake a few other things, as well as take photos of them (and post them to Facebook). There’s no point in saying “I’ll wait until I’ve done this to do my hobby” or something similar… you just have to grab it. Which is why I bake and take photos; I love it! It reminds me that life is something to be enjoyed NOW and not to be put off for another time. You have to MAKE time for your achievements, for your work, for your family and hobbies, and you have to sacrifice and prioritise for them all. I personally think that you can have and do it all, but just not at once.

And, onto the pie!

I didn’t really expect much from this pie… I just sort of threw it together. I felt like making something hearty and relatively healthy (compared to other desserts). But now I think it’s going to be a delightful addition to my repertoire of recipes! I mean, sure, it’s a paleo pie, but even if you’re not on the paleo diet, this pie is absolutely fantastic and I really prefer it to conventional pies, as it’s not too sweet. I used cherries and blueberries, but you could easily use other fruits. Favourite combinations of mine are apple and blackberry, forest fruits, and peach and raspberry (my mum makes a delicious peach and raspberry crumble… mmmmmm!).

I made this for one weekend when we were all together at my parents’ and we had this with mum’s rib-eye beef! Was delicious!


The morning that I had baked this pie, my brother and I were working in the living room, and the pie was cooling on the kitchen worktop. I went into the kitchen with the lights off, and the light from the living room was shining through the serving hatch and illuminated the pie in such a picturesque and angelic way that I had to capture it was it was! I’ve never been a fan of using indoor lights, and always try to use natural lighting, but I had a good tripod and the right angle, and I think the pictures below came out beautifully, despite the darkness and small amount of fake light!

I also took photos at my parents’ house, because I absolutely love their rustic kitchen as it’s large and beautiful, and full of light, but I really struggled with the composition. Well, more so the lighting and angles to make it look delectable without making the colours look flat. The typical example would be taking photos of salads: with the right lighting and angles they can look crisp and delicious, but with the wrong lighting (i.e. in a dark restaurant with a flash) it can look limp, boring and lifeless.

I love how the crust of the pie is stained purple, and the colours inside. :) And how it looks so impressive yet is so simple to put together! And, a great gift idea would be mini pies!

The pie is delicious when hot and straight from the oven, with a generous dollop of clotted cream. But then this is also wonderful cold with double cream as well. If you leave it for a day after baking and before eating, the flavours mingle with one another and with the pie case. It’s perfect all year round: hot in the winter, and cold in the summer!

The pie case is also great for savoury pies, because it’s not sweetened with coconut flour, it goes with every taste! I used it to make a savoury beef pie that was absolutely delicious! :)

Thursday training:
1km run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
800m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
600m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
400m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
1 min pull up rig hang (weighted if possible)
400m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
600m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
800m run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg
1km run into a 100m farmer’s walk 16/24kg

Deep Dish Paleo Berry Pie
Serves 8-10
Case adapted from: Elana’s Pantry; filling adapted from The Yoghurt Pot

Ingredients
For the pie case:
• 4 cups almond flour
• 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted (approx. 2 heaped tbsp coconut oil if hard)
• 2 x eggs

For the filling:
• 350g cherries, pitted (fresh or thawed from frozen)
• 350g blueberries, (fresh or thawed from frozen)
• 250g mixed dried fruits (soaked overnight in hot water)
• 3 generous tbsp maple syrup/honey
• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp arrowroot powder (optional)

Preparation
Drain the dried fruit that has been soaked overnight in water. Mix all of the ingredients for the filling together in a saucepan, bring to the boil, and let simmer for around 10 minutes (if not using arrowroot powder, maybe simmer for 15 minutes to evaporate a little more of the liquids?). Then set aside.

In the meantime, prepare your pie cast. Mix all of the in a large bowl and homogenise well with the back of a spoon. Line a cake tin with baking paper (my cake tin had a removable base, and was 15cm in diameter and 8 cm in height), and press the case mixture all around the cake tin, ensuring that the walls are thick enough to hold the weight of the fruits. (I used about ¾ of the mixture for the base and walls, and the remaining for the top.)

Pour in the berry filling. Then pat the remaining pastry mixture on top of the filling. Make sure to seal as best as you can any gaps between the lid and the walls of the case, without splashing juice anywhere!

Pop the pie into a preheated oven at 200°C for 20 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 160°C for 15 minutes. I then let my pie cool in the oven.

If you wish to present the pie to guests, I recommend to cool the pie entirely before removing it from its tin, so that it holds its shape better.

This is delicious straight from the oven when hot and fresh, but is also beautiful the next day, as the juices inside become a sauce, and the flavours mingle with each other and the pastry case.

Bon appétit! :)

Baked and constructed: 24.01.2014 @ the Kung Fu Kitchen! :)

Gratefulness | A Degustation of Paleo Delights (long and reflective post alert!)

Menu du jour:

1. Mashed butternut squash with coconut and macadamia nuts
2. Pork, apple and sweet potato meatloaf
3. Cauliflower risotto
4. Green breakfast smoothie

This week’s been a funny week!

For me, it started on a low, and ended on a high!

I’m not sure why exactly, but on Monday and Tuesday I felt really insecure in myself, rather upset and couldn’t stop thinking about certain “issues.” I’m worrying about quite a bit, going to Frankfurt for a few days next weekend, getting back into OU Spanish when I get back (can I keep up with the workload? Or rather, can I actually achieve the grades I want to achieve?), not being able to cook for a while due to other commitments, worried about people’s impressions and opinions of me, lots of emotions, etc. But thanks to my lovely mother I was able to see it through and by Wednesday I was back to my normal self again. :)

On a more positive note, I was picked for a team to compete in The Tribal Clash 2014! I briefly wrote about the competition that took place this year, and it was an amazing experience! A LOT of teams applied for it in 2014, including from various other countries, too, such as the Portugal, Norway, Finland, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Spain, Poland and the USA. And Josh picked me to be in his team! Along with Kim (we were teammates last year, too!) and Thom! There were 144 team slots, and 607 applicants (I assume the applicants were individual people who had a team in mind they wanted to put together, so I suppose that’s a potential 607 teams registering their interest!)!

However, as it turns out, after all of the places were allotted, those teams that won that ballot had to claim their place before a certain date (yes, it’s only October and we have to commit to an event that’s taking place in August). Of course, a lot of teams didn’t claim their place (which I think is understandable, because if there are people who need to come in from abroad of across country, they don’t know if they can commit to the money to get there and stay, and even local people; who knows if they can have that time of guaranteed? Who knows what’ll happen!). So as a result, there was a “smash and grab” event, in which at midday on a certain day, the applicants could log online and claim the places that successful ballot winners failed to claim. As a result, there are a total of 7 teams not from CFP (there were only 2 before!)!

I’m really excited for it, and honoured that I was chosen by a very strong crew to be part of their team, although I am very nervous about letting them down on the day. The thing is though, they’re all lovely people and I feel comfortable around them, so even if I did let them down, I don’t think they’d say it (I don’t know if that makes me more nervous or not!). But either way, it’s 10 months away… that’s 10 months to prepare!

This week in uni/at work has been… productive, but at the same time, not so much. I’ve had very productive mornings, so I’ve been doing about 5 hours of productive work each day this week (except for Friday, which was very productive, but I’m going in on Sunday to make up for slack time this week!). But for some reason, in the afternoons, I found it extremely difficult to concentrate.

This week has really brought up the lesson, again, that life is all about what you think!

I keep on learning this, over and over again. So why do I sometimes make myself dwell and focus on the little “what if’s” and make what other people may think of me a priority in my life, rather than concentrating on right now?

Nobody knows what’s around the corner. And I’m not talking about major life events or disasters. I’m talking about little everyday occurrences. Every day, every week, every month, I’m pleasantly surprised by people’s kindness, nice comments, invitations to places, etc. I try to enjoy it in the moment, but I also try not to let it get to my ego (i.e. I should be just as happy even if no one appreciated how hard I worked to achieve this, or if no one invited me out anywhere this weekend, or if I didn’t get any attention from that person today, etc.). But then I also know that bad things will happen, too. Again, I’m not talking about disasters that are life-changing here, I’m just talking about little things, such as someone making a sarcastic remark and hurting you, someone using you and talking to you only when they feel like it, not being as productive as you would have liked, or achieving a result that you wanted, etc.

But I know now, through experience, that life’s always going to be cycling between the two, and as a result, you get times in life when you feel really high on just experiencing the everyday, and then you get times in life where, although nothing has changed, you feel really low. This can happen within such a short space of time that it feels as though an alien has invaded my brain when it does and I’m no longer my true self!

But knowing isn’t enough. Application is the key! I feel as though I know enough on how to survive in a happy-for-the-most-part-manner in life. I feel as though I’m knowledgeable enough to guide myself and give myself the advice I need to overcome everyday insecurities. But then why don’t I listen to myself? “Lessons in life will be repeated until they are truly learned.” Well, of course they will be, because you’ll always be falling for the same traps until you learn to overcome them. But in a way, that’s the beauty of it; life always presents you with an opportunity to better yourself and to overcome something that previously held you back. And if you don’t succeed, then life will present you with countless opportunity to succeed again, and again, and again. But life will never not present you anything that you find uncomfortable or difficult to deal with, because then you’d never develop and grow as a person, and then, in my opinion, life just wouldn’t be interesting or worthwhile.

It’s like eating for health and losing weight. If someone wants to lose weight, they (as most people I know) get so obsessed about food, being around it, restricting it, planning every calorie, etc… but then when they’re offered some chocolate, for example, they eat it! But it isn’t aligned with their plans, so why do they eat it? Well, some people would blame the other person for offering them chocolate. They try to control the outside. To be honest, no one is ever going to be in a situation where they’re never offered anything that’s full of calories. I went to a buffet meal the other night and had this plate of dessert (I’m quite ashamed!); but my point is, is that no one made me eat it. I put the food on the plate, I ate it, and I have to suffer the consequences (sugar rush, sugar crash, calories, etc.). I could blame the food for being so tasty and looking so delectable. Or I could have attempted to control the situation by not going to a buffet restaurant. Or I could see it as a chance to improve myself. I could have had maybe only a little bit of each, or chosen one thing, etc. In other words, life will always give me a chance to improve myself and enhance and strengthen every lesson I’ve learnt. Once I’ve truly learnt it, then it will seem as though life no longer throws it at me.

When I’m in that period where I’m in my own bubble, life couldn’t be any better. That’s not to say that people still don’t influence me or that I don’t care, but it’s to say that I’m just happy with what is, and I just absorb myself in the moment and focus on what’s to be done at hand, without referring to possible future outcomes or dwelling on the past.

This is why I love this food blog; it’s so cathartic, spiritually renewing my, ego isn’t involved, and I can explore my creative side in a relaxed manner by carefully selecting what dish to construct and how the flavours will complement one another, purposefully preparing it and cooking it with love, and how to photograph it by bringing out the colours and right angles (that’s another reason as to why I love to eat paleo; the food is just so colourful!).

Sometimes, I look through recipes online and admire the photography of others and wonder how they created such a magnificent image. I look at things in their photos such as the colours, the props, the composition, the light source, how harsh the shadows are and how that contributes to the appearance of the texture of the food, etc. I ask myself: what can I do in my place to improve my own photography making use of the light source and location that I have? Should I play with aperture or shutter speed settings next time? How can I get better photos with less light, or should I consider buying a halogen lamp? What should I play around with next time? What can I create that my family would enjoy? I think it’s obviously worked, because the improvement I’ve seen in my own photography has been phenomenal! I can’t even explain to you what exactly I did to improve it, but it was asking myself these questions, being analytical, and developing a sense of intuition and experience to judge situations. Of course struggle with more things than others; some dishes are just easier to photograph than others, and sometimes the light one day is perfect, while another day it’s too harsh or not enough. But just looking back at the first few pictures I took with my camera, I’ve come a long way, and I can’t wait to go even further!

It’s doing things like this, such as contributing/maintaining a food blog, that lead to a higher path in life. When you’re so utterly absorbed in what you do, it’s so unexplainably enjoyable and there’s so much satisfaction to be found in any activity. It just brings you limitless happiness. And I get this bubbling passion and enthusiasm for everything. That’s when life is truly worth living.

That’s why I like doing a PhD; it’s a 3-4 year project that you work on, after which you become an “expert” in your field. On those days when I really get into my project, it’s incredible. Take a meeting I had this week, for instance: we discussed the use of electrolytes in a solution of adsorbent and adsorbate, and how a more concentrated solution of electrolyte will compress the double layer on the adsorbent, thereby possibly enhancing the adsorption of the adsorbate, but more electrolyte will screen any electrostatic repulsions. So how do we calculate the Debye length under my given conditions? It got really more indepth than that, and it was interesting. The satisfaction I get after discussions like that is incredible. I feel as though what I’ve been working towards is finally being realised. When you solve a problem, immerse yourself in such analytical thinking and go about investigating what happens when this changes that, etc., it’s just so amazing. However, it does take a lot of mental effort. And a lot of times, there are those days when you apply effort, effort, effort, but nothing comes to fruition for days, weeks, months… it’s about pushing through. Just like a WOD. Get that last rep done, get that last experiment done, and when you finally see the end, the buzz, the adrenaline, the amazement at what you can achieve becomes apparent!

Anyway, my point is, is that when you throw yourself into things, the rest of life falls into place. In my most insecure times, I feel as though I’m waiting for the next good thing to happen (i.e. I spoke with this person the other day and worried that they don’t like me, so when they next contact me I’ll be happy), or going over in my head how bad an impression I give to other people or how they think this or me, etc.

But yes, life is all about human relations, I believe, for the most part at least. But at the same time, at the end of life, it’s all about what you thought about the most. What occupied your mind throughout your life? Was it focussing on how this wasn’t right, how that person may not have liked me or didn’t invite me to this (or even if you were invited, who cares?! Why place so much emphasis on it?!), or was it focussing on all of the beauty there is in life?

That’s why I’m a very keen advocate of finding hobbies, and lots of them (well, that’s another blog post in itself! But my mum always tells me that life is about sacrifice. There are so many things in life I would love to do but not enough time and mental energy to do so all at once, so sometimes some things have to give and sacrifices have to be made if you want to achieve what you want. And she also advocates simplicity; i.e. simplify your life and do as few things as possible as well as you can. And again, she also talks about balance; life is all about balance! So finding the right amount of hobbies to keep you interested in each, or if you dwindle in one area, then you have other areas/hobbies to pick you up, but picking few enough so that you can really get the best and put your mental energies 100% into each without spreading yourself too thinly).

Just doing something as simple as appreciating other’s food blog posts and photos, to cooking, serving my family and photographing (or trying to!), makes me appreciate how beautiful life is. We take these things that grow out of the earth, apply heat and other spices in various ways and we have a meal that every human enjoys the eating experience. Isn’t it amazing? And the camera itself; what a fantastic contraption! Life is full of amazement every day and it’s up to us to see it for what it is and how physicists and inventors were able to think in such abstract and creative ways to manipulate the laws of the universe to do something at will. Incredible!

Gratefulness is the key to living a fulfilled life! I have to say, that when I’m feeling blue, it’s usually because I’m taking for granted what I do have going for me and focussing on the negatives. Actually, I’m not even focusing on the negatives (as there really are none!), but on the potential perceived negative, that isn’t even really that big a deal anyway, and I know isn’t logical thinking either. But that’s what insecurities are.

However, it’s part of the human condition, which to some may be an affliction, but to me, even in my down times, I remind myself that this is my once chance, and I feel so honoured that I get to experience it and that so far everything has turned out perfectly, and it always will (there’s a little bit of Susan Jeffers’ life teachings and sentiments right there in that sentence!).

Anyway, onto the food – enough spirituality for the week! I could type forever about this stuff but it’s always incoherent and just a stream of consciousness! I wish I had more time to edit these blog posts to make a lovely accompaniment to the photos, but this’ll have to do for now! :)

As you can see, the other week I decided to whip up a fair few different things as I just couldn’t decide which one to make. The meal we had was roast pork with crackling, meatloaf, cauliflower risotto, mashed squash with apple, coconut and macadamia nuts and steamed broccoli and sprouts (I steamed enough broccoli and sprouts for the first few days of the following week to take to uni/work in lunches!).

We also had cauliflower rice with this lamb’s liver I cooked in tomato sauce. It was beautiful! There was just enough sauce to coat the liver, and the cauliflower was moist, as were the vegetables. I actually take a preference to meals that aren’t caked in sauces. Sometimes it’s nice to have a roast dinner covered in homemade gravy, but for the meal you can see that had the meatloaf and butternut squash – no sauce was needed! I drizzled some pork juice over the top of the dish, but I didn’t want to smother the colours and flavours in a generic gravy. It really wasn’t needed as each element of the meal could have been eaten alone.

I would love to cook the cauliflower in coconut milk, too! In these photos, I cooked it in water and a bit of dried sage – nothing else! I think coconut milk would have made it creamier and thicker, which may have been a bit too much here, with everything else, but if it’s the main element of your dish, then it’d be great! I’m definitely going to try that sometime. :)

The meatloaf was also incredible; this is by far my favourite meatloaf recipe ever. I’ve made it about twice before, and it was always ok (just minced meat moulded into a load shape…), but this was something else! Each bite was just a little bomb of flavour in your mouth, and I think fresh apple diced and thrown into the mix would have gone really well with the rest of the flavours. But we ate the load straight from the oven, and so it crumbled easily. It’s only when it’s cool does it keep its shape and then you can cut it (as with cakes). My brother and I had it in lunched for uni the following week. :)

Saturday’s advanced WOD @ CFP:
In any order, in pairs
a) Row 1600 metres
b) 30 snatch anyhow 70kg\45kg
c) 20 rope climbs
d) 14-12-10-8-6
HSPUs
C2B pull ups
One starts on HSPU, one starts on C2B, both complete 14 then swap and complete 14. Continue down the sequence until they are finished.

I did this with an awesome partner and she’s really strong! Power snatching 45k like it’s nothing! I really struggle with power snatching at anything more than 40k, and I know I bleed a lot of energy from my hips and don’t extent. I’ll have to practice tomorrow in the open session. I was full snatching 45kg, but struggling today! It’s funny because last time I was snatching I hang snatched 45kg three-times in a row and did a 47.5kg hang snatch, and that was easy – and right at the end of a workout, too (so I felt really warmed up). Maybe it’s because I’m a little sleep-deprived from the week and under the weather (I did get almost 11 hours of sleep last night and really needed it considering how little I’ve had during the week!), but I was surprised that I nearly had an accident full snatching that bar. I didn’t pull it high enough, got under it and it fell on the back of my neck and starting pushing me forward. Lucky I just sort of pushed it back, but it could have been serious.

I never really did get into this morning’s workout, but I think that demonstrates how serious lifting things and doing skilled movements (even doing stuff like HSPUs, rope climbs, etc.) can be when they go wrong, and so never ever do something like that hardheartedly! Never have I had anything happen to me that could have been that potentially serious!

But I really struggled this morning with those snatches! I put the weight down to 40k and I can power snatch it ok (I know I don’t extend my hips enough and bleed lots of energy from them – gotta work on that!), but I can work at 40k doing hang snatched really easily. As soon as it’s 45k, I get scared and think I need to work more at that weight to get more confident and stable.

Here’s a video of some snatch practice from this week! It’s a bit wobbly at the bottom, but I think I know why (thanks to paying attention to what coaches say in class, reading, and help from others, of course!). It’s supposedly my “1RM” from a while ago, but I just need to practice at this weight now to get comfy and confident with it, too! :)



Mashed Butternut Squash with Coconut and Macadamia Nuts
Adapted from: Coffee and Quinoa and The Healthy Foodie
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
• 1 butternut squash
• 3 x apples
• ¼ cup (60ml) coconut milk
• ~50-100g toasted coconut
• ~50g macadamia nuts, halved or crushed
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• splash of lemon juice

Preparation
Halve the butternut squash, and put in the oven with the whole apples for 1h 30m at 160°C, or until the apples are bursting with their juices and the squash is soft when a knife is pushed all the way through.

When cooled, scoop out the flesh of the squash and put into a saucepan. Remove the core, seeds and stems from the apples (this can get messy!) and put in with the squash. Mash using a potato masher, and homogenise thoroughly.

At this point, you can sauté onions and garlic in butter or coconut oil, and add those to the butternut squash and apple mix.

Add the coconut milk, toasted coconut, crushed macadamia nuts, maple syrup and lemon juice, and homogenise well.

Gently heat over the hob until warmed/heated through. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Pork, apple and Sweet Potato Meatloaf
Adapted from: Paleo OMG
Serves 8-10

Ingredients
• 1.5 kg of pork mince
• 6 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x apples, cut into small chunks
• 1 tsp garlic, minced
• 2 x small white/yellow onions, diced
• 6 x rashers of smoked bacon, chopped into lardon-sized pieces
• 1 cup of almond flour/ground almonds
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 1 cup mixed dried fruit/raisins
• ½ tbsp cinnamon
• hard-boiled eggs

Preparation
Put the sweet potatoes in the oven for 1h 30m at 160°C, or until they are is soft when a knife is pushed all the way through. Let cool.

Put the bacon, garlic and onions in a non-stick frying pan. Turn the heat on low until the juices are released from the bacon. Sauté the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent and the bacon is cooked al gusto/to your liking. Add these ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

When the sweet potatoes are cool, cut the ends off of the sweet potatoes, cut into rough pieces, and add to the large mixing bowl, along with the apple chunks, ground almonds, eggs, raisins and cinnamon. Homogenise well.

Rinse/wash the mince, and add to the large mixing bowl. Use your hands to really mix everything well. Press around the hard-boiled eggs that you have and then press everything into a non-stick/buttered/silicon/lined with non-stick baking paper baking tin (I love silicon moulds!). Mine was a square 20 x 20 cm silicon mould.

Bake for ~2h minutes in a preheated oven at 175°C.

Cauliflower Risotto
Adapted from: page 172 of Paleo Comfort Foods
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
• 1 x cauliflower
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• 2 x cloves garlic, minced

Preparation
Steam the cauliflower until tender. Put into a bowl along with any seasonings (herbs, spices, sauces, etc.), and mash using a potato masher until the texture resembles rice. Serve immediately, or if preparing in advance or wanting more flavour, reheat later over the hob with a little bit of water, stock or coconut milk for creaminess.

Green Breakfast Smoothie
Adapted from: About.com
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
• 3 cup of filtered water
• 1 handful kale leaves
• carrot tops from a bunch of carrots
• 1 apple, cored and cut into chunks
• splash of lemon juice
• 2 kiwis, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 ¼“ slice of ginger

Preparation
Blend the kale and carrot tops with two cups of water. Press through a sieve and put the resulting juice in a large glass storage bottle. Blend the rest of the ingredients, and incorporate into the juice. Shake/mix/homogenise, chill, enjoy. :)

Rave at the Box (any excuse to bake!) | Quadruple of Primal Treats

Menu du jour:
1. Banana & nut brownies
2. Coconut brownies
3. Honey, lemon & almond cookies
4. Chocolate & pistachio biscotti

What a week and what a crazy weekend! Where do I start?

Firstly, I should probably apologise for a very photo heavy post. But these brownies are just so damn photogenic. I love the colours of these banana brownies in particular, and the fact that they’re a little thicker/taller than the coconut ones (although the coconut brownies are a little gooey-er) makes them slightly easier to shoot.

I also tried a slightly different set up when taking these photos; I put my white boards on a coffee table so I could get differently angled shots easier than before, and it seemed to work! I took the Friday afternoon off because a) I was being incredibly unproductive that afternoon and all of the labs were packed, and instrumentation I needed was in use, and b) it was sunny and so I wanted to make the most of the light (as it had been dark and raining all week!). Although, it did get too sunny that afternoon (too sunny?! Yes!) and the direct sunlight made the shadows too harsh! Can’t win, eh? But I managed to get around it. :) (I have posted a photo of my set up, but please excuse the cables; I was testing my internet connections and there usually aren’t that many!)

So anyway, onto the food!

Although these treats are technically primal (paleo for the most part), they’re still concentrated (i.e. too many nuts, lots of honey, maple syrup, dried fruits, etc.), and so they’re still only a treat. I need to keep reminding myself of this; I swear there were twice as many of these treats before I took them to the party at CFP, but I just ate most of them in the space of two days. I tried my hardest to resist, but I just couldn’t. I would have eaten them all if it wasn’t for the potential shame of turning up with an empty box and broken promises!

Of course you can alter the sweetness with the amount of honey/maple syrup you add, and as well as the squidgy-ness with the amount of sweet potato and flour. Also, the more things you add, the less squidgy they will be (hence why the coconut brownies look a lot moister than the banana ones!).

These also go superbly well with coconut cream! How do you make coconut cream, you ask? Just open a tin of coconut milk, mix well, put in a mason jar and pop into the fridge overnight, et voilà‎! Coconut cream! It’s light to taste and so delicious! Although these brownies are moist enough to enjoy without anything else. :)

Just make sure that the brownies are cold before you cut them, otherwise they’ll crumble a bit too much! Although if you’re like me and put a million different things in them, it’s always going to be difficult to cut a clean slice every time.

And don’t get rid of your sweet potato skins! They make excellent pizza bases! Just put on some toppings and pop them in the oven. :) I would love to try and make these with avocado or beetroot. I would also like to try these with oats, too. I’ve used black beans in brownies, and they came out really well, although a little drier. I think my next test will be to try them with mung beans as they’re a little bit mushier in texture and may make for a softer brownie. We will see and I will post the results at some point! If they come out well, I may well try and scale it up to make it in to a cake for my brother’s birthday. He’s into health foods and getting as much protein as possible. Beans have a lot, so I’ll make it into a protein cake! I could even add protein powder and peanut butter, but I think adding a large chunk of meat will be taking things a bit too far…

The honey almond cookies were supposed to be biscotti, but I think I accidentally put in twice the amount of honey and syrup, as well as too much baking powder! So when I popped the batter (yes, batter, not dough!) on a baking sheet, I thought that it was too runny, but it sort of kept its shape. And when I had baked it for the first time, it was as flat as a pancake (and just about spilling over the edges, too!). It still tasted really nicely though, and would have been a shame to have got rid of those lovely ingredients. So I scooped the batter back up, made them into cookie shapes, and baked them again. And ta daaaa! Saved biscotti turned biscuits!

I’ve never even been a big fan of biscotti. They definitely have nice feelings and associations… when else do you have biscotti other than with tea or coffee? And tea and coffee means either a break, time to relax, or good old ramblings and nattering with someone special. Or that first cup of tea in the morning… that’s to die for! Anyway, getting off topic… the photographs on the other blogs made the biscotti look SO divine, so I thought I would give it a go! But one thing that puts me off of biscotti is that they are SUPER crunchy! I like crunchy things, but sometimes they’re too hard… maybe I’ve just had bad biscotti in the past? But either way, the ones I baked weren’t hard at all – they were still quite soft and fairly chewy with a really nice taste! More like soft biscuits/cookies than hard biscotti and remind me of Roman sweets. :)

The brownies are definitely my sort of thing though! Especially the banana ones, as I love banana! But then again, the coconut ones were so chocolately and moist, so I liked those, too. I did have a lot of complements the night that I took them to the rave at the box! And even afterwards, on Facebook, someone posted that they only remembered having little brownies/cakes that tasted delicious. I’m glad they went down so well! I’ve even had several people ask me for recipes, and so, here they are! Today, someone from the box even posted photos of this sweet potato pie that they had made, but added pumpkin in, too, and served it with Swedish glacé (dairy free ice cream)… and it looked so good!

It turns out that I have inspired quite a few people to cook more things and eat more paleolithically, and I’m always really pleased to hear such feedback. And not even regarding food and nutrition, but I’ve recently had feedback about how I inspire some people down at the box with their training and various other things. It really touches me every time I hear something like that, and really makes me feel great, as though my work on this planet is helping me to fulfil what I set out to do. If I can inspire people to try new things and push harder in order to try and better themselves in some way, then I am very happy, indeed. :) That’s what I believe we’re all here for, and I believe that’s what optimises the human experience!

Earlier that day we had a “leaving WOD,” beautifully crafted and it was a partner WOD, too, which are always fun. The atmosphere was epic! I was with Emily and we kicked butt! The WOD was as follows:
Cash in: kettlebell handwalk in plank position in pairs (using 3 KBs)
WOD: 30 partner alternating wall balls 9/6
30 partner alternating pull ups
30 partner alternating sit ups
30 partner synchro skips (1 rope)
30 partner alternating press ups (legs of one partner on another)
30 partner alternating plate complex 20/15
-burpee
-cluster to overhead
-2 x alternating OH lunges
Both partners then stand on a 2.5kg plate for 5 seconds to finish WOD!

The photos from Crossfit are not mine, but nabbed from Facebook. :D

The photos of the hoodie are also another surprise in the post I received last week from a friend I made at PrimalCon a few weeks ago! It was such a thoughtful gift, and the postcards are of Emerald Bay around Lake Tahoe, as we toured there one evening on a beautiful boat. In return, I have posted a load of English tea to the US! He has tea most probably for life! Although if he drinks it at the rate I do, it certainly won’t be for life! I was very touched by this gift, as it was incredibly thoughtful, and will take place in my heart along with a few other special gestures I’ve received in my lifetime. Thank you. :)

Oh, what else? Plymouth Raiders won their basketball match on Sunday night again Durham Wildcats! It was a great match to watch and I’m so glad I was with my favourite people!

I could go on about a lot of different things, but I will stop there, and maybe save it for next time. ;) Here’s Monday’s WOD!

Monday’s WOD at CFP:
(After-party WOD I think!)
“The Grim Reaper and his gurned up mate”
In pairs with a 40 min timeout:
100-70-40
Push press 35/25
SDHP 35/25
KB swing 24/16
Press ups
Sit ups

Banana & Nut Brownies
Adapted from: Eat Drink Paleo

Ingredients
• 3 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x large bananas, chopped (+ 1 for decorating!)
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ~1 cup dried fruit and nuts (I used a mix of walnuts, dried cranberries, dried goji berries, pecans, dried physalis, large raisins, golden raisins and a handful of macadamias!)
• 1 cup of good quality, unsweetened, cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp coconut/almond flour
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder (gluten free)

Preparation
Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skin and mash the insides in a large bowl (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!). Add the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ingredients) and mix until well homogenised.

Spread in a baking tin lined with non-stick parchment paper (I used a silicon baking tin; they’re fantastic!) so that they’re 1″ thick. Use the one banana reserved for decoration by chopping it into 25 slices and arranging them on top of the batter. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 185°C, and let cool. Carefully remove the brownies and cut into sizes as big as you like. (In my case it’ll just be one big portion all for me!)

I used a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking tray, but I think a slightly smaller one would have been better for thicker brownies.

Coconut Brownies
Adapted from: Eat Drink Paleo

Ingredients
• 3 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ½-1 cup of toasted, flaked coconut
• 1 cup of good quality, unsweetened, cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp coconut/almond flour
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder (gluten free)
• White chocolate and double cream to decorate

Preparation
Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skin and mash the insides in a large bowl (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!). Add the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ingredients) and mix until well homogenised.

Spread in a baking tin lined with non-stick parchment paper (I used a silicon baking tin; they’re fantastic!) so that they’re 1″ thick. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 185°C, and let cool. Carefully remove the brownies and cut into sizes as big as you like. (In my case it’ll just be one big portion all for me!)

I used a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking tray, but I think a slightly smaller one would have been better for thicker brownies.

I melted white chocolate (not paleo, I know!) with double cream, spread it across and sprinkled flaked coconut all on top for decoration.

Chocolate & Pistachio Biscotti
Adapted from: Paleo Spirit

Ingredients
• 1 cup almond flour
• ¼ cup coconut flour
• ¼ good quality cocoa powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup pistachios, halved/crushed
• 100 g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until homogenised. The dough should keep its shape when pressed together, otherwise you may have added too much syrup!

Form the dough into one 1″ thick log on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely (about an hour).

Cut into ½” thick slices, place on their side, and put back into a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool before decorating and serving. I covered the biscotti in the white chocolate/double cream glaze I made for the coconut brownies, but it didn’t look as nice as I hoped it would! I think pure, intense white chocolate would have been better, but we live and learn! :)

Honey, Lemon & Almond Cookies
Adapted from: Steak, and Sass

Ingredients
• 1 cup almond flour
• ½ cup coconut flour
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• zest of 1 lemon
• 8 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup slivered almonds

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until homogenised. Spread onto a baking tray (with large sides!) lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely (about an hour).

Scoop the dough up, shape little balls of equal size, and press onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Let cool entirely before serving.

All baked in my lovely kitchen: 24.10.2013

New Fridge-Freezer and Personal Posts | Paleo Banana Bread

What a week! I feel slightly sleep deprived, but despite that I’ve been doing really well with WODs at CFP this week! I’ve trained 6 days out of the week so far… not sure if I’ll train tomorrow because I have a lot to do, but I feel quite fresh and restless to lift things! We’ll see :) Maybe it’s also the fact that I’ve eaten a tonne of good fats and veggies? But one thing’s for certain; I’m definitely having a lie in tomorrow! :)




Yesterday, while in uni, I came across a really interesting blog post about a restaurant called Lutèce, and the history behind it. It really captivated me. This blog authour really has a way with words and makes it so fascinating. I absolutely love the way their passion for the subject comes out through their writing. It’s an insight into someone else’s mind, and sometimes it’s incredible to think that other people give meticulous thought to various other aspects of life, and that passion for learning, knowledge and expertise, in my opinion, is what makes people interesting and leads to the most amazing of conversations. To me, it’s things like this that determine whether I think we’re going to be good friends or not; it’s all about their attitudes and what they spent a majority of their time thinking and pondering over. And if those things are aligned, then spiritual connections are made. :)



Anywho, that aside, my fridge-freezer broke! I knew it was on the fritz, and it was slowly dying, but we managed to order a new one through Appliances Online and they were brilliant! One of the best companies I’ve come across so far! They’re quick, smooth and friendly. :) Initially it was weird having a grey box in our fridge, as my old one had all sorts of inspirational posts all over it. But now I’ve put them back on, it feels more comfy and like home. :) I love these particular quotes because they all ring true to my head (luckily my brother doesn’t mind them on the fridge!)… especially the passion quote. Passion is vital in every aspect of life and it makes any type of work joyful. It is also my belief that one cannot be happy without working; working hard, striving and achieving things. I truly believe that you have to push yourself to be happy, and to enjoy what life has to offer. Without doing such things, all you will do is stagnate and become ungrateful. This world is full of amazing things, and they’re all yours for the taking, but only if you’re willing to strive for it. That’s what my fridge posts are there to remind me.



I also have posts on the notice board in my room, not to mention an album of photos and inspirations quotes I have on an album on my iPod and computer. They really help to motivate me, and bring this sense of unfaltering determination that just fills me with energy. I can do this! We all can! :)



One thing that also helps relax me is cooking. When it’s too complex and there’s not much time, it gets stressful, but preparing delicious, simple, natural food, is something I think all humans can enjoy. It’s a real sense of achievement to eat something that you’ve poured your love into and can share with other cherished ones. I decided to make a banana bread because it was quick, simple, and great for having in the evening when my brother and I get in late from the gym to save time. Tim liked his with peanut butter, but I preferred mine with macadamia nut butter. Hazelnut butter is also a treat! Nom nom nom! :)



Saturday’s advanced WOD @ CFP:
30 minute AMRAP in teams of 3 of:
20 muscle ups (I did jumping ones from boxes!)
20 bear complexes (power clean, front squat, push press, back squat, push press); each team member has to do at least 2 before swapping 80/50
400m run
40 2-4-1 wall balls 9/6
40 HSPUs

Oh, and here’s a video from the Wolfpack Dominance Series, WOD 2, on Friday night (last night). This is me three rounds through my 5 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 4 power cleans (45kg), 24 double unders and 10 pull ups… but I’m really proud of my form! Let me tell you, that at this point in the game I was hanging, and for my form to look that good is great! I certainly didn’t feel like it was, though! Although, of course, there’s always room for improvement. :) I need to decide if I’m going to do the London Throwdown/Battle of London qualifiers. I need to, as I need to push myself mentally and do these things that are terrifying. But at the same time, it’s easier not to, and I just don’t feel ready…



Paleo Banana Bread
Adapted from: Civilized Caveman Cooking
Serves 1 (in my case, at least!)

Ingredients
• 4 x bananas (mashed)
• 4 x eggs
• 4 x heaped tbsps coconut oil
• ½ cup (~ 8 tbsp) almond flour/ground almonds
• ~ 2 generous tbsp flax seed
• a load of dried fruit
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp vanilla

Preparation
Preheat oven to 175°C. Homogenise the ingredients well. Put into a silicon baking dish (mine was 20 x 20 cm) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. If in a loaf tin, maybe 1h -1h 10m.

Enjoy hot and cold, with a spread of macadamia nut butter (my favourite!). :)

Tribal Clash 2013 | Apple “Coffee” Cake & Upside Down Summer Berry Sponge



Wow, where do I start? I’m currently in a nice hotel in Reno just waiting for our flight home from the amazing PrimalCon Lake Tahoe 2013! I have so many things to write about but that’s for another post! I was supposed to briefly write about another event that took place at the end of August. Although it feels like it was eons away, it will always hold a special place in my heart: The Tribal Clash 2013.


The Tribal Clash was seriously an epic event, with brilliantly crafted WODs, squatting 50kg logs, ocean swims, tribal runs up and down huge hills through a trail run, running on shingle (hardest thing I’ve ever done!), tyre deadlifts, beam pull ups, the works! I learned that I’m not actually bad at running, and I’m actually not bad at all at swimming, either! I hadn’t swam since school, and I think I did really well! If improved my technique, who knows? That’s just another thing I need to learn to do with everything else!

The same team wants to go again with me next year, so hopefully we’ll be more prepared! We were first in every heat, which gave us a serious disadvantage. I believe we came 30th overall out of 100 teams; after the first day we were 12th. Not bad considering we had no strategy for any of the WODs and just winged it! Next year will hopefully be just, if not more, epic! :)




The reason I have chosen this particularly unhealthy recipe was because my mum made it that weekend (and the weekend before I believe!). She made a delicious apple cake with fresh apples from our garden, my grandmother’s garden and the garden of our local friends! :) Actually, at PrimalCon, chef Rachel Albert demonstrated some delicious reecipes with apples – some I’ll definitely be trying soon and then posting on here! :)

The apple cake (which I’m quite proud of how the photos turned out; I really struggled at first, but think I got there in the end!) was used with a third less sugar than the recipe called for. In fact, I think a lot more of the sugar can be omitted. And of course, the apples can be subbed with various other fruits. The sponge was very soft, especially straight from the oven, and with double cream it was divine! This cake will make a great basis for other flavours and fruits! Great to take on picnics, good to give away, for impromptu coffees with friends, etc. It really is an all purpose cake, but the name sounds too plain! It should last for a few days and keep its springiness!

We tried it with berries following this simple fruit sponge recipe, and although it turned out really nicely, it wasn’t cooked in the middle. We tried it about three times, and each time the outside was starting to burn but the inside remained uncooked. I think a lower temperature fro longer *should* do the trick! You can see from the pictures above that the inside was rather “smushy.” But it was still really creamy in texture and super silky soft. Either way, it was delicious!

Apple “Coffee” Cake
Adapted from: BCC Good Food 1 and 2

Ingredients
For the cake:
• 125 g softened butter
• 80 g caster sugar
• 3 x eggs, beaten
• 50 g ground almonds
• 100 g self-raising flour
• 2 x large apples (i.e. the size of cooking apples), cut into chunks
• 75 g raisins or sultanas
• cinnamon

For the topping:
• 2 tbsp brown sugar
• 2 tbsp softened butter
• a handful of flaked almonds

Preparation
Heat an oven to 160°C. Beat all of the cake ingredients together in a bowl, and transfer to a silicon baking dish. Add the topping ingredients evenly to the top of the cake. You can even reserve some apple to do so, too! Pop into the oven for 50-55 minutes until a skewer/knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Black Forest (Dark Chocolate and Cherry) Individual Pavlovas


Well, I’ve just got back from Crossfit after tackling Barbara, and I’m so glad I went! I really didn’t feel like it, but you do get into after a while and just have fun! The will to continue comes. As the saying goes; don’t wait for the inspiration to come, act as though you are inspired and inspiration will soon come! I wrote a blog post about will and workouts here, and it applies to so many things in life. Will can also be cultivated through changing one’s perspective; I’ve been doing that a lot recently, and really feeling the effects in my mood and the amount of joy that entered my daily life as a result has been tremendous! But that’s for a whole other blog post! :)

I’m in a particularly good mood and have a lot to ramble on about, but not much time as it’s getting late and I need sleep and energy to study and train hard tomorrow! Mum wants me to post this pavlova/meringue recipe so she can make it for when nanny knocking visits next weekend, so I’m posting it :)

Recently, I’ve been getting back into cooking (specifically baking and trying things I would like to photograph, other than the usual stuff I eat on a daily basis like vegetables and salads – but I’ve wanted to photograph more exquisite things recently!) and photography! Since I’m at this point of revision, when I do have free time I don’t want to study Spanish/French/Japanese/German (as inspired by my recent trip to Switzerland and an upcoming trip to Frankfurt!), because I just don’t want to be writing any more things down or reading intently. I’d just rather have some fun and get creative! It’s also something I do where I can guarantee that my ego won’t pop in, as I just find it so joyous and fun to do. I also like that when I’m feeling upset, it cheers me up because I can focus on the task at hand, knowing I’ll enjoy it. If I’m feeling happy, it has the same effect. If it’s rainy, I can focus on cooking/baking/creating something delicious for people I love, and even if the weather’s nice and I’m alone or my brother’s doing his own thing in the background, I can do this quite happily and entertain myself. It’s my little thing and I love it :) But again, this is all for another post!

As my mum’s a big fan of white chocolate, I gave her white chocolate and my brother, dad and I had dark chocolate. We all had a combination of blueberries and cherries, and drizzle cherry juice (from the cherries when pitted) over the meringue before serving and it was beautiful. Of course, for photography purposes I just stuck with cherries, dark chocolate and no juice, but you can see the one I ate in the most bottom right photo (it does look a little more juvenile; like the sort of thing you’d find at a kid’s party! I think the different colours make it look like sprinkles!).

I made the meringues the afternoon before, and kept them in an air tight container in the fridge. They kept their crispness for up to 3 days. They were all gone by then, do I don’t know if they would have remained crisp for any longer! So I suppose you can prepare thee meringues a couple of days in advance if you like. However, definitely don’t stack/layer them with the cream until you’re going to serve them! Not only will the cream not be stable, the meringue will go soggy. I made one at 9.45am so I could take photos last Saturday, and didn’t eat it until 4.30pm and it was a little soggy. It was still delicious, but the crunch wasn’t there; it was almost like a meringue cake, but I suppose that’s not the effect desired by most pavlova-enthusiasts.

I also made the cream at the same time as well, and it started to melt in my living room (which was rather warm) while I was taking photos. It stayed together in the fridge until 4.30pm (in a stainless steel bowl), when I served it, although it didn’t seem to have quite such a beautiful texture as when it was freshly whipped, so I personally recommend whipping the cream just before serving, too. It will only take about 5 minutes though! There are recipes online to stabilise the cream, which I think involves either a) adding sugar and gelatin and other things, or b) adding a LOT of sugar so that it turns into a sort of frosting, which I think takes the delicate creaminess away from pavlova.

The original recipe that I found online said that glossy meringues would form if you fold in 2 tsp of cornflour and 1 tsp of white wine vinegar into the stiffened egg whites. I completely forgot to do that but oh well! They were still delicious! I will have to remember next time!

Monday’s WOD @ CFP:
“Barbara”
20 pull ups
30 press ups
40 sit ups
50 squats
3:00 mins rest in between rounds

Time after…
… round 1 = 4.04
… round 2 = 12.26 (inc. 3 mins rest)
… round 3 = 21.12 (inc. 3 mins rest)
… round 4 = 30.06 (inc. 3 mins rest)
… round 5 = 39.09 (inc. 3 mins rest)
rx’d baby :) (press ups were definitely the slowest! Followed by squats and my sore hips after stretching and being aware of my awful form!)

Black Forest (Dark Chocolate and Cherry) Individual Pavlovas
Adapted from: Donal Skehan
Makes 18 meringues (9 individual pavlovas)

Ingredients
For the meringues:
• 250g icing sugar
• 4 x egg whites

For construction:
• 500ml whipped double cream
• ~250g pitted cherries and blueberries
• ~100g dark and white chocolate
• Juice from the pitted cherries

Preparation
For the meringues:
Preheat the oven to 150°C and line baking trays (I used three!) with non-stick baking paper. Put the egg whites and sugar in a bowl, and whisk until stiff and glossy white peaks form. Use the upside-down-over-the-head test if necessary.

Spoon 18 tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking sheets, and flatten the tops. They should keep whatever shape you give them; this is a way to tell that the peaks are stiff enough. Make sure they’re not too close together but they don’t have to be too far apart, either!

Bake for 45 minutes (I used a fan-assisted oven). Then turn off the oven, leave the door ajar, and allow to cool completely.

To construct:
Whip the double cream until stiff, and construct the pavalovas by starting off with a meringue base, spreading on cream, adding cherries, a sprinkling of chocolate, and repeat with another meringue base, etc.

Serve immediately with cherry juices and enjoy! :)

Constructed for my beautiful family: 03.08.2013

Sweet Potato Pie | Sophie’s Leaving WOD

Blog post: here!

What a brilliant week I’ve had!

What have I done to make the week so brilliant? Well, nothing. Just eaten, Crossfit-ed (yes, it’s a verb now) and studied, but it’s been pretty enjoyable! I guess that’s the sign of a life worth living; just enjoying the simplicity of simple things and appreciating the chances to grow everything in life has to offer.



Photo: Sophie’s leaving WOD :(

The Weather is still muggy but not as hot and sunny as the previous week, but I suppose it’s a good reason to study! Maybe the sun will come back next week or the week after :) I’m just glad I’m at home here, enjoying the location, my family and my situation :)

The photo above is from Friday evening, where a group of people got together and did a massive group workout as Sophie’s leaving WOD, full of some of her favourite elements, like rope climbs, prowler pushes and chest to bar! The evening was really sunny and the brownies were flowing! It’s such a shame Sophie’s leaving, as I feel as though she made me stronger; without her I would be sticking to easy weights and not pushing myself as much! Hopefully we’ll meet again at some point in life!

The WOD, however, was really fun! It involed 7 stations in the following order:
1. burpees
2. rope climbs
3. chest to bar pull ups
4. handstand push ups
5. prowler push
6. GHD sit ups
7. double unders

There were two teams; one of seven people, the other of eight. Everyone would start doing the burpees. Then after 30 seconds, one member from each team would run 200m and start at the second station. As soon as that person got back from the run, another person from the burpee station would run and join the rope climbers. This would continue until everyone was working on the rope climbs (note that the burpees was the only station where everyone was working all at once; the rest of the stations everyone could only work one at a time).

As soon as everyone had moved onto the next station, the runs would start again in order to move everyone onto the next station. The order of the people could change, so you can choose your strongest person on a particular movement to stay on something they’re good at or move on ahead to their specialist movement. For me, it was the rope climbs!

The score was the total reps combined, and then divided by the number of people in the team. Of course, we added everyone’s burpees up and the team’s total rope climbs, pull ups and other individual movements separately so we could compare the teams. The WOD was really good fun! Great atmosphere, and everyone was always busy! It sounds as though you may not have had much involvement in the WOD because of the large teams, but there was always someone moving, doing something, getting involved, etc. The warmth as well meant that everyone finished sweaty!



Photo: 1. This truly was a great breakfast! Crunchy leaves with fried chorizo, bell pepper, onions and garlic in the chorizo oils with herbs de Provence, tomatoes, feta cheese, pecans, sweetcorn, olives, flaked coconut, ginger, chili, and a fried egg :)
2 + 3. Making a breakfast of eggs, adzuki baens, pea shoots and fried onions, garlic, chorizo, apple and tomatoes with herbs de Provence :)

This week, I’ve also had salads for breakfast or nothing. I think because I have tea, which has milk in it, makes me not hungry in the morning. But then to be honest, I’m always ready to eat. I’m rarely hungry! I think I could eat one modest portion of food a day and that would last me. However, I don’t. Why don’t I? Because I love food! It’s too good to turn down two other opportunities to eat!

Anyway, the breakfast salad pictured really was amazing. I could have that for dinner or supper or lunch! But sometimes, it’s nice to switch things up, so I also had different breakfasts, too. The other pictures show adzuki beans that Tim and I heated (or, well I did, as I cooked it!) with pea shoots, eggs fried on both sides, and fried chorizo, apple, tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs. We also had one with heated “three bean salad” (cannellini, flageolet and adzuki beans) and spinach instead of pea shoots. They offered different tastes but was equally as delicious. And, the chorizo is a very oily meat, and so when you fry it a little, the oils come out and you can use that instead of adding extra oil!

I think it’s important to eat well when studying. People often complain of their lack of energy and sleepiness in the afternoon, but I don’t tend to get that (unless I haven’t had much sleep for a couple of nights!), which is why I think it’s important not to eat things that give you crashes such as refined wheat, sugars and processed foods. This is why I spend time preparing fresh food. And it’s also a nice release from work; it’s a break, it’s art, it’s creative and it’s a hobby. Taking photos is also a hobby of mine, too, because it’s something I’ve seen improve since I started, and I hope to continue to improve. I like combining my passion for cooking and capturing my work. It can be time consuming, but sometimes it’s worth it.

Usually, when I have a period of time when I don’t need to be in the lab (i.e. at home reading books and publications and writing up reports, etc.), I get up early, do a couple of hours revision, make breakfast or prepare dinner, do a few more hours, have lunch/dinner, do a few more hours of work then head off to Crossfit. It breaks up the day nicely as I find it really difficult to sit in the office or just in a chair for several hours straight. Yes, because I can’t sit still for that long; I get restless and I know it’s bad for my body (I get really stiff; it’s as though my body is telling me to move), and I just can’t focus for that long.

The other day I made a sweet potato pie as my break. I made the crust during one longer break, and the filling during another. It’s really cathartic and refreshing to make new things and discover new taste combinations. But sometimes I just have to be aware to not spent too much time on my hobbies and to really get to work! Discipline is required being a student, even though everyone “jokes” about how easy we have it!



Photo: Sweet potato pie with (not homemade) cherry ice cream:)

I am grateful for my life; I don’t know many other people who can walk to work in 10 minutes, and who have control over their own hours. As long as the work gets done, I can work whenever! I’m so grateful for that! It does require a lot of discipline, but I’m sure it will just send my discipline levels to new heights!

Anyway, as I was saying, I made sweet potato pie the other day! I’m really pleased with how this turned out! I’m proud of the photos I managed to luckily snap, but also the taste of the pie is great as well!



Photo: Sweet potato pie with (not homemade) cherry ice cream:)

The pie is with Tesco Cherrylicious Ice Cream, which is absolutely delicious. It’s once of those ice creams that are soft even after you’ve just taken it out of the freezer. And the taste went so well with the pie! Cream is nice, too, but I preferred ice cream.

This pie is so easy to make! I used a silicon cake mould as they’re easy to clean and really prevent the bases of cakes and things from being stuck to the sides of the mould. I think I’ll never not cook with silicon again! The pie can also be eaten hot or cold. When it’s hot, it’s almost like a quiche. We had it hot/warm when I first baked it with salad as a supper. It had a very savoury taste, especially because I omitted the 1 cup of sugar in the recipe whatsoever. I thought that if it really did need sweetening (i.e. when eaten as a dessert), we could use honey.

After it’s been in the fridge for a night it’s delicious as a cold snack or dessert… I thoroughly recommend double cream or ice cream! The flavour of that cherry ice cream combined with the slightly chocolate base and savoury sweet potato is absolutely delicious!

It’s getting late now, so I think I’ll wrap things up here. I wanted to talk about how my mind plays tricks on me with WODS and compare my Cindy performance on Thursday (which I was really pleased with!) to my performance at the advanced WOD today. The OHS were heavy but I had done WODs like that before with those weights. But for some reason I was extremely negative. After the first round, I really could have cried and just stopped, but I could let my partner Maz down! We scaled the WOD and took 5kg off, but it still didn’t make me any less nervous. It was the last round that I did better than I had all WOD (even though I should have been more tired), because the guys who had finished were telling me not to cry and to just carry on. Without them I probably would have done about 10 of the 30 OHS and Maz would have soldiered on with the rest!

I’ll have to post a link to the Cindy blog post later! :)
[Edit: here's the blog post!]

Saturday’s WODs

Advanced WOD:
“Naughty Nancy”
In pairs, complete 5 x rounds for time of:
750m run
30 OHS 65/45 kg

Group WOD:
In groups of 4, one person working at each station.
4 x 6 minute rounds of (with 3 minutes rest in between):
200m run (as soon as the team member gets back from the run, all members rotate stations)
Kettle bell swings 20/16 kg
Burpee box jumps 20″
Strict pull ups

Score = total reps (not including the 200m runs).

Sweet Potato Pie
Crust adapted from: Healthful Pursuit, and filling adapted from All Recipes
Serves 8

Ingredients
For the chocolate crust:
• ¼ cup flax seed
• ¾ rolled oats
• ½ cup mixed dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc.)
• ¼ good quality, 100% cocoa powder
• 1 tsp vanilla essence

For the filling:
• 1 large sweet potato (450 g)
• ¼ cup softened unsalted butter (~85 g) (optional)
• ½ cup (coconut) milk (175 ml)
• 2 x eggs
• 1 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp vanilla essence

Preparation
For the crust:
Soak the dried fruit in ½ cup water for 40 minutes. An alternative would be ½ cup of orange juice. Put the oats in a blender and blend so it’s almost like a fine flour. Blend the dried fruit until they’re a paste.

Add all of the ingredients together and mix until homogenised, then press into an 8/9″ diameter silicon cake mould so that it forms a pie case.

For the filling:
Put the sweet potato in the oven at 175°C for about 45 minutes; until it a knife inserts easily into the middle of the potato. When it’s done, take it out of the oven, break it apart and leave it to cool.

Scoop out the inside of the sweet potato, pop it in a mixing bowl and mash it with a fork. The add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. You can choose to blend it for a smoother middle, but it’s not necessary. :)

Add the filling into the pie crust, decorate with pecan nuts, a handful of flaked toasted coconut and a sprinkling of cinnamon, then pop into the oven and bake at 175°C for 55 minutes.

Eat hot with salad for a lovely supper; this way it’s almost like a quiche!

Or eat cold (i.e. from the fridge) with double cream or ice cream for a delicious dessert! Add honey if you desire.

Baked: 27.07.2013, just before Sophie’s leaving WOD!

Pan-Fried Smoked Haddock with Root Veg Chips and a Carrot Timbale


I always try to cook healthy and nutritious food for my brother and I while we’re at uni. I think we eat pretty well for students! We’re both trying to follow a paleo diet, which involves no wheat, sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol or potatoes. I did follow this diet strictly for 30 days, and felt no difference to my energy levels, but I think that was because I didn’t eat much wheat or sugar to begin with! I did eat grains, dairy, potatoes and legumes, however I personally feel as though these don’t damage your health if they’re eaten occasionally, and they certainly don’t seem to affect my energy levels.

It is incredibly difficult to stick to strict paleo, because there isn’t a restaurant out there with a perfectly paleo dish! Even if you could find a dish without a grain, legume or potato, it would probably be cooked in some sort of vegetable or sunflower oil. I think the closest I’ve found is Nando’s, because they do grilled chicken with sweet potato side dishes; perhaps that’s why all the Crossfit lot eat there often! So we do use paleo as a diet guideline, although we’re not 100% strict; we do like peanut butter every so often, and I have milk in my tea. Occasionally we have regular white potatoes or rice, but always limit sugar and wheat (the biggest culprits, in my opinion, of inflammation and disease these days!). However, if I was to go to a restaurant, a friend’s house, or my parent’s place, and found that my mum had made one of her famous carrot cakes or a lasagne or spaghetti carbonara was on the menu, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down!


Most people we speak to think it’s quite a radical diet, but to be honest, it really isn’t. I was surprised when my dad said to us “don’t you guys find it boring?” On the contrary! There are so many different recipes and ingredients to try! We use a lot of coconut, butter, olive oils, almonds, etc. More than we used to. Sometimes it can be a little more pricier than eating a large plate of pasta or rice (as they’re quite cheap), but fresh veg isn’t that expensive, and neither are various meats if you buy them in bulk. Remember: the freezer is your friend! Not only that, but how often do you expect to each in a day? One large and a smaller meal would be enough if you really were that tight on money!

Also, a lot of people seem to think that paleo is for weight loss. Sure, it’s great for weight loss, but if you’re on paleo JUST to lose weight, I suggest you reevaluate what you want to get from it. Weight loss is a great side-product of the diet, but the ultimate aim of eating paleo is for optimal health. This is why various paleo advocate sites suggest being strict for at least 30 days to clean your system out, and then slowly introduce various things, such as dairy, back into your diet to determine if it makes you feel sluggish or affects your adversely. I like to think that I know why I stick to paleo. I’ve read several books on the subject and feel fairly well-versed in the area. I like to know why I’m not eating wheat and sugar, and what effect that has on the body, rather than just following guidelines in a book because an expert said so.

For example, eating refined wheat and sugar causes a spike in blood-glucose levels, and as most people, especially in the Western world, eat mostly these things at every meal; bread, desserts, pasta, biscuits as snacks, and this causes elevated blood-sugar levels, which causes chronic inflammation. Sure, our body is pretty good at dealing with inflammation, but when it’s chronic, that’s when disease rears its ugly head. Of course, it’s all a lot more complicated than that, but if you’re interested in finding out more, I suggest you read the following fantastic and highly informative books:

The Paleo Solution
The Primal Blueprint: Reprogramme your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health and boundless energy
It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
The Paleo Answer: 7 Days to Lose Weight, Feel Great, Stay Young
Wheat Belly
The Paleo Diet for Athletes (Revised Edition)

Pan-Fried Smoked Haddock with Root Veg Chips and a Carrot Timbale
The Carrot Timbales are adapted from: Paleo Comfort Foods, pages 210 & 211
Serves 4

Ingredients
For the timbale:
• 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or butter)
• 450g carrots, finely sliced
• 2 x large cloves of garlic
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 tablespoon dried thyme
• 80ml (1/3 cup) coconut or almond milk
• 2 x eggs, beaten

For the “chips” and haddock:
• 4 x fillets of smoked haddock
• celeriac
• parsnips
• carrots
• cherry tomatoes
• olives
• sweet potato

Preparation
For the timbale:
Heat the oil in a saucepan until hot. Add the carrots and garlic, toss to coat, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until tender for about half an hour or so.

Scrape the carrots into a food processor, and purée until smooth. Mix in the rest of the ingredients until homogeneous.

Spoon the purée into ramekins until they are nearly full, then cover with tin foil. If you want a crispy top, don’t cover.

When you want to cook them, preheat the oven to 165°C. Put the ramekins in a roasting dish, and pour in boiling hot water until it comes ½ way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Remove (carefully!) from the roasting tins, and serve either in the ramekin, or without. To remove, run a knife around the ramekin to help loosen the timbale.

For the haddock and vegetable chips:
Chop all of your “chips” in advance, and place them in a large roasting tin with coconut oil or butter. Pop them in the oven at 165°C for about 1.5 hours to 2 hours. This way, you can put the timbales in 45 minutes before the “chips” will be done.

About 15 minutes before serving, pop a small knob of coconut oil or butter in a pan and fry the haddock fillets until cooked (i.e. the fish is no longer translucent looking and flakes more easily).

Eaten: 03.11.2012 with my lovely family :)