Kung Fu Café
Since 2011

Plymouth Half Marathon | Chocolate Sweet Potato Brownies/Cake with an Avocado Frosting

Yesterday was the day that myself and eight other CrossFit girls ran with a stretcher loaded with 50 kg, and ran the Plymouth Half Marathon in order to raise money for The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

We managed the whole thing in 2h 59m and 38s… sub-3 hours! Wohooo! Eight of the guys from CrossFit Plymouth also ran with a 70kg person on their stretcher, and completed it in 2h 36m and 50s. It was pretty cool that the guys could find someone to be on their stretcher… unfortunately, the person that we were going to carry couldn’t make it. So we carried a sandbag! It didn’t look as impressive because a lot of the crowd were saying “oh, what’s on the stretcher? Nothing.” It was pretty frustrating!

The weather was a little overcast, a little sunny at times, windy, and even a little rainy. It wasn’t as sunny as it was on Friday (we did a Hero WOD combo of DT and Murph… not fun!), and when we were training it was actually pretty hot running in the sun! So thankfully it wasn’t as sunny on the day, but I still managed to get tan lines on my legs!


The map of the route we ran, as recorded by my Garmin watch – thanks Ed!

We only did one training day with the stretcher and ran only half of what we were supposed to run. Not only that, but we didn’t even have all of our teammates on that day (think there were 6 of us girls). Oh, we did one other run with the stretcher in the pouring rain late in the evening in January sometime. We ran only a couple of km and realised how difficult it was going to be. That said, there were only 4 of us carrying the thing. Although it did feel really cool because it reminded me of the Xbox game Left 4 Dead I play with my bro (zombie apocalypse thing… standard).


The guys coming back to cheer us on for the last 800 m or so and over the finish line!

I personally made the big mistake of eating a few (*ahem*) jelly babies and drinking some Lucozade. At one water station they were handing them out and I missed the water. But instantly it made me feel sick (this was at mile 6, I believe) and felt that way for the rest of the run. I didn’t need any of the sugary stuff, and I wish I’d listened to my gut (no pun intended!). But when you have loads of people telling you that you need it for energy (i.e. websites, onlookers, other people), then you kind of start believing them. I wish I just had water for the whole thing!



But what was worse was my knees! I even said to everyone at mile 7 that this is loads easier than I thought it was going to be, to which they told me not to jinx the rest of the run! But by mile 9 or 10, my knees were in pain! I was really worried that it’d be my calves that would go (as I always complain about my calves on long runs), but I suppose the fact that we were running slowly and I was making an effort to strike on my heels first maybe meant my calves were protected? My knees became so painful and today, my hips are a little sore and my knees are rather bad. Although nowhere near as bad as I thought I was going to feel. I even feel so fine that I may go to CrossFit and hammer my shoulders tonight… There’s no rest for the wicked as we have DWF in less than 2 weeks… and I feel extremely underprepared…


There was PLENTY of this cake consumed, along with copious amounts of sushi and sake with my bro the evening after the race! Needless to say I’m very proud of myself, and proud of how we all pulled together and supported one another; that’s what the CrossFit community and friends are all about :)

We had quite a few supporters from CFP and others’ friends and family come out, which was really lovely. Thanks to those guys for coming out and shouting to us! :)

When I got home, I felt a little sick for a while, and wasn’t hungry at all. Still managed to eat loads of food in the evening though! My brother and I treated ourselves to some takeaway sushi (we’ve been saying for months that we need to do that!) and some warm sake. Then had some of these brownies in cake form for dessert! :)


I made these brownies on a very rainy Easter Sunday to share with my lovely family. The weather cleared by the evening so my dad, brother and I went for our usual walk. :) I took some into work and those who tried them said they were surprised that there was no flour. Katie wants to recipe, hence why I’ve written it up! :)

I then made two brownies in the form of a cake. This was I could “treat” myself to dessert and control my portions every evening. So if I wanted to have a dessert, it would have to be a portion from the cake – nothing more! But having said that, within two days over half of it had gone between my brother and I… and that was us trying to be “conservative.”

I was going to decorate the cake with raspberries, as they’re so visually stunning, but I did so with the Oreo-crusted tart. So then I thought I’d decorate it with more frosting piped around the edges of the top, but then couldn’t be bothered to waste previous avocado frosting in my piping bag (as thare’s always loads leftover/stuck in the bag).

They’re similar to the sweet potato brownies I made for the CFP party, but different. And then basically covered in chocolate avocado pudding

This really is definitely one of my most favourite chocolate cakes, and with double cream it just tastes absolutely amazing. Really. It’s so moist, creamy, chocolate-y, yet sturdy enough to cut slices and look visually attractive. Just all the things that you could possibly want from a chocolate cake. I tried to catch the moistness and textures of the cake in my photos, so I hope I’ve managed to do that!

If you’d like to make the brownies, follow the recipe below. If you’d like to make it into a cake, simply double the recipe and then split the batter into 2 x 9” cake tins. :)

Chocolate Sweet Potato Brownies with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting
Not Quite Nigella, Eat Drink Paleo, PaleOMG, and Kung Fu Café
Makes 20-25 squares

Ingredients
For the brownies:
• 800-900g raw sweet potato
• 4 x eggs
• ⅔ cup honey or maple syrup
• ½ cup coconut oil, melted
• ⅔ dark chocolate when solid, then melted
• 6 tbsp coconut flour
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 3 tbsp chia seeds
• 4 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder, sifted
• ½ tbsp baking soda, sifted
• ½ tsp mixed spice/allspice
• pinch of salt

For the frosting:
• flesh of 3 ripe avocadoes
• 4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
• 4 tbsp of cocoa powder, sifter

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Pop the sweet potatoes in for maybe 1.5 hours until the middles are soft. Take out and leave on the side until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the insides of the sweet potato (reserve the skins for sweet potato skin pizzas!), and place in a large bowl. Add all of the other ingredients and homogenise well. Pour into a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking mould (or a greased tin!), and pop back into the oven for 45-50 minutes. When the time is up, turn the oven off and leave the brownies in the oven for about 15 minutes. Take out and leave to cool on the side.

To make the frosting, blend the avocadoes, honey and cocoa powder in a food processor until smooth. Add more honey and/or cocoa powder until the desired taste has been reached.

Brownies made: 20.04.2014 (Easter Sunday).
Cake made: 24.04.2014.

Vegan Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting | Spring Has Arrived (as has the Exam Period!)

It’s now spring and the weather recently has been spectacular! Two days ago was the deadline of the last piece of coursework for the academic year of my brother’s course, and now he’s freeeee and can enjoy a summer of training hard. BUT, it is the start of the spring exam period… doh! But at least Tim prefers exams to coursework. :)

In order to celebrate the coming of spring and to help get Tim through his exams, I decided to make my most favourite carrot cake recipe! I’ve also made this into a paleo version (with paleo icing and everything!), and will hopefully post that soon. :)

Actually, the real reason to make this carrot cake was to take it to a friend’s housewarming party. However, Tim and I ended up eating most of it before the party… and so I had to quickly whip something up the night before and it turned into some ooey-gooey peanut butter bar things. They were delicious, but I did feel very fat for having eaten something I was going to take. But it was just so good and I have no self control! I’m sure many people can relate though… right? But the cake that was leftover, I took to the party, and was offered a place to stay in her house because of my baking. Woop woop!

Carrot cake is one of my all time favourite cakes. It has to be moist, with not too much frosting, but not too little, either. It has to be light, and slightly sweet, but not too sweet (i.e. no sugar in the frosting and not too much, if any, in the cake). It also has to have plenty of nuts and dried fruits of different varieties, and chocked full of carrot.

This carrot cake recipe, in my opinion, is pure perfection. The cake itself is soft and moist, full of nuts and fruits and plenty of carrot. The icing is smooth and delicate, and the cake satisfies a sweet tooth without being too sweet. The ratio of icing to cake is perfect, and one doesn’t overpower the other. Carrot cake, I believe, is the ultimate combination of flavours and is sheer bliss.

To decorate this cake, I used some crushed cocoa beans from Hotel Chocolat, and it made the cake look more like a white chocolate cake, but I really wanted to try and decorate it like this! Otherwise, I would have used pecans, walnuts, or pistachios to decorate. In some ways I wish I had made it distinctively a carrot cake, as I do usually, but I quite like this presentation. I think it looks soft and very eye-catching!

The cocoa beans are the ones to use in a cafetière, and I bought them when I was in Aberdeen visiting Ed. He influences me so much, and he makes coffee over the hob from a little moka pot; it’s so cute and I love the smell and the idea of brewing coffee over the stove, but I just don’t like coffee! So this is a lovely alternative. :)

When I first made this cake a few years ago, mum took a bit and asked if I had soaked the dried fruit in orange juice. She noticed! She said she bit into a raisin and it burst with flavour. So I definitely recommend soaking the dried fruit for as long as possible.

The frosting I tried to use when last making this cake was a Swiss meringue buttercream, but it failed miserably. In fact, the frosting itself tasted fine and the carrot cake was beautiful, as usual, but it just looked like someone had puked all over the cake and was quite off-putting and unappealing. And in actual fact, I do prefer cream cheese frostings because, yes, they’re easier than meringue frostings, but I find that the cheese compliments the carrots and spices in the cake so much better than a super-sweet meringue icing. Although, the very first time I tried a cream cheese frosting, it was really lumpy! This time, I actually bothered sifting the icing sugar and melted the butter and cheese together to ensure that it was well homogenised. Yes, the little extra effort is almost always worth it (yet another life lesson learnt through baking escapades!).

Failed Swiss meringue buttercream from 18.08.2011…

Anyway, back to this cake; it’s so delicious with double cream and fresh strawberries and blueberries. The flavorus complement one another and the tastes are indescribable. Seriously, try it for yourself! To me, it’s reminiscent of something you’ve have at Wimbledon. :)

I struggled for ages with the composition when taking photos. I’m not sure at first if I really liked the orange colour, but I think it looks nice with the brown of the cocoa beans, nuts, the paper cocoa bean bag, and the cream frosting.

And to end this post, I’ll leave you with some witty Little Britain dialogue (as I did with the banoffee pie!):

”Carrot cake, carrot cake, have ye any nuts?”

Friday’s WODs @ CFP:
DWF qualifying WOD 2 and WOD 3 with Samantha, Simon and Luke! :)

Vegan Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting
Apt 2 Baking and The Little Epicurian
Makes 2 x 9″ cakes

Ingredients
For the cake:
• 2 ¼ cups flour, sifted
• 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp ginger
• ½ tsp nutmeg
• 1 tsp all spice
• 1 ½ tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 cup pecans, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts…
• ¼ cup toasted coconut
• ⅛ cup dried goji berries
• ⅛ cup cocoa beans, crushed/broken
• 1 cup orange juice
• ½ cup mixed dried fruit
• ½ cup groundnut oil
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 cups grated carrot (about 2 large carrots)

For the frosting:
• 450g tub of soft cheese/cream cheese
• ½ cup (115g) butter
• 1 ¼ cups icing sugar, sifted
• pinch of salt

Preparation
For the cake:
Add the mixed dried fruit in a medium-sized bowl with the orange juice, and leave to soak for 45 minutes (overnight would be better).

Preheat oven to 175°C.

In a large bowl, sift in the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, all spice, baking soda, and baking powder. Add in the nuts, toasted coconut, dried goji berries, and cocoa beans.

In the bowl with the fried fruit, grate in the carrot, add the sugar and groundnut oil.

Pour in the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, and pour into 2 x 9″ silicon cake moulds, and pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the moulds on the kitchen worktop.

For the frosting:
Melt the butter in a large Pyrex bowl in the residual heat of the oven (or you can turn the oven back on, or do it over the hob). Then add in the soft cheese and mix well until homogenised. Leave to cool to room temperature before sifting in the icing sugar and salt, and mixing well.

Assembly:
When the cakes have cooled, remove one from the mould/tin, and put it on a plate (be careful, the cakes are delicate!). Spread a layer of the frosting on top, and then carefully place the other cake on top. Cover the assembled cake in cream cheese frosting, putting it all on top, and using a knife to spread it around the outside. Decorate as desired, with nuts, carrots, cocoa beans, etc. Keep in the fridge. When the cake is cool, it will be easier to move to another, cleaner plate.

Baked: 28.02.2014

Quick Bordelaise Sauce | Stand Up for Yourself

Ahhh March… the first sign that winter is ending and that spring is a’coming! :D So it’s time to get out some lovely spring vegetables, such as asparagus, and to pair is with an equally sophisticated sauce!


Asparagus is a sexy vegetable. Let’s face it, it looks delicate and exotic, even though it’s really a robust, strong and hardy vegetable. It looks different to most vegetables, and breaks free from the ground, defying gravity and shows everyone that it’s here! It even sounds foreign – those sexy ‘s’ and ‘r’ sounds make is so much more distinctive from something such as everyday ‘broccoli,’ which sounds like ‘brick,’ or something.

Steamed asparagus is so beautiful, but it’s one of those vegetables that’s so easy to overcook and then it goes all mushy and soft. Although it’s not one of my favourite green vegetables, when compared to something I love such as cabbage or kale, I do love the prospect of eating it; it’s so exotic-looking that I get really excited when I see it on my plate, but it’s a little bit stringy in texture if you eat the whole stalk (asparagus tips steamed well are really delicious, though). When steaming, once the water has boiled in your steamer, your asparagus is probably cooked. Check it by stabbing your fork into the thickest portion of the stalk. If it pierces it easily, then it’s done. Take it from the heat straight away. If left any longer, it will cook in an instant! You have to keep an eye on your asparagus.

But now that I’ve gone on about my love for asparagus, and before talking about the sauce, let’s talk about life.

There’s so much going on at the moment. With Crossfit, there are quite a lot of competitions coming up. This is the first weekend of the CrossFit Open… 14.1, which I haven’t entered (for many reasons!), but I think I’ll just do the WODs for fun if I can. The first WOD for DWF (Divided We Fall) has also been released, and with my awesome team of Samantha, Simon and Luke, it should be quite fun. :) I do like team WODs… I usually work harder than I would by myself, providing that I’m not too nervous or feel like I’m letting anyone else down!

But, last week was one of the most stressful weeks I’ve had during the PhD I’ve had so far. To be honest, I have been fairly depressed and suffering from PhD Depression for most, if not all, of my PhD so far. I know I’m not the only one (seriously, just Google “PhD depression”), but I sure feel alone at times. I have the support from many, and I’m so thankful for that, but sometimes it just feels like there’s no way out.

I feel like an imposter, and that I don’t know enough. Whatever I do isn’t good enough and won’t please everyone… and the stress and demands are really brutal at times. The thing is, I enjoy the work and the scientific enquiry, the challenge… but I can’t cope with feeling so stupid all of the time. I think I know my strengths and weaknesses, but sometimes that just isn’t enough and it all becomes so overwhelming.

The whole PhD has actually turned me into a depressive person. I think I’m quite good at putting my mood behind me. If I’ve had a bad day in the office or lab, I won’t let it affect my Crossfit, a week with my other half, or a weekend with my family… but it will ruin an evening alone, because I just can’t switch my mind off. In some ways, I say to myself that when I get a job, it’ll be different, but deep down, I know it won’t be. I’m a natural born worrier and I’m going to have to learn to deal with that and develop different habits.

But last week was very character building for me, as I got myself into hot water (a.k.a. touble!). Basically, I have issues with my project, and instead of going to my first supervisor, I went to my second. This didn’t go down well what-so-ever. I can see why my first supervisor got upset, but he was very reasonable with it all, I feel. I still have the same issues with the project, but maybe as a lesson for my own assertiveness, I should bring them up as they arise, rather than wait. Although in my defence, I didn’t realise they were issues at the time, until I looked back on them and realised that certain things shouldn’t have happened, etc. Now, I appreciate that everyone’s only human, but I still feel that so many things shouldn’t have happened in order to have made for a smoother project.

Anyway, I could talk about this and make a whole post of it, but I won’t. My friends know what I’m talking about and I don’t feel that I should air my dirty washing/laundry in public. So I shan’t. But I do feel a little unfairly treated and reprimanded like a child. So instead of being talked to, my funding was threatened. So of course, I got a little ill last week just because of the sheer stress of it all, because of the potential bad relations that may have been between me and my supervisors, but also, of course, the prospect of having to find a job and spending almost three years on a road to nothing. I’m only just getting over it and my mild-flu.

Anyway, let’s talk about this dish! :)

Bordelaise sauce, according to Wikipedia, is a classic French sauce named after the Bordeaux region of France, which is famous for its wine. The sauce is made with dry red wine, bone marrow, butter, shallots and sauce demi-glace (a rich brown sauce used as a base). This sauce is adapted from an AllRecipes recipe, and it tastes very rich and elegant without going to much hassle at all. Although I guess technically, it couldn’t be a Bordelaise sauce, as it doesn’t have bone marrow (unless you wanted to add some!).


I seared the beef steak with a grill pan in order to try to get some lovely sear marks on it. I always call those pans a “Jamie Oliver pan,” as they always just remind me of him… I swear he uses them almost all the time! But I had to smear a small amount of oil on each side of the steaks in order to get the marks… otherwise it just wouldn’t work!

I think this sauce would go really well with any dark meat, such as lamb, beef, or even liver. I cooked this for Ed and I in Aberdeen a couple of weeks ago (wow, where does time go?!), and we had it with veal, steamed vegetables, leftover sweet potato and apple mash, and honey-roasted parsnips. Mmmmmm. I think if you added in double cream, it’ll work just as well, although of course will add a different dimension to the dish, rather than being rich and dark.

I would also quite happily eat this as a soup! I was taking photos of it in the white bowl, and my brother immediately exclaimed “that looks really nice… can I have it?” He was very disappointed when I told him that I’m going to be taking photos of it the following day, so will have to wait. I went out and bought a specific bowl from Marks and Spencer, because Ed had these really nice shallow white bowls with a rim. They looked great with everything and anything in it! I’ve never really been into shallow bowls, but these “pasta bowls” just make everything in it look great.

As Ed currently has no Tupperware, I put the remainder of our Bordelaise sauce in one of these white “pasta bowls.” It just looked amazing and I wanted to take a photo of it then and there! But I didn’t (because it was dark at the time), so I decided that I would do it myself when I got back to Plymouth. :) Ed also has lovely plates, as you can see in the photos: the yellow Mediterranean-looking ones. And he even had this brown-blue-white plate that was very sophisticated-looking, and I used it to take photos of the chocolate-walnut brownie torte. So after all my babble, what I’m trying to say is that even though Ed was moaning about his kitchen (he really seemed to want to do it up!), he had some lovely plates that I just wanted to take back to Plymouth with me. :)


Although I do like white plates (as they’re guaranteed to display any food well and look good in pictures), I invested in four more, too: a beautiful blue plate that I bought with Ed, a wooden pant pot stand (that I’ll use as a plate), a small, white rectangular plate, and a larger and flatter white, rectangular plate with a sauce dish. You’ll see them featured in my photos a lot more from now on, and I think now is the right time, too, as my photography is getting better, I’d like to experiment with different plates, colours and backgrounds, too.

I hope to go back to Aberdeen in three week’s time… it’ll be to go to the Unconventional Gas conference to promote the research groups porous structure modelling software and its applications in fracking. This means, of course, that I will get to see Ed! I believe two of my colleagues will stay in the city centre, and hopefully I can stay at Ed’s! My two colleagues are hoping to drive up, and are going up regardless of whether I go or not, so not only will we have a fun road trip, but me tagging along for personal development, means that I don’t have to pay any extra for travel, anything for accommodation, and only £25 (as a student) to enter the conference for a day! I think that’s just an opportunity on a plate! :)

Sunday’s WOD:
NOTHING! :D

Oh, it’s pancake day on Tuesday! :)

Bordelaise-esque Sauce
Adapted from: All Recipes
Makes enough sauce for 4-6

Ingredients
• 1 tbsp butter
• 1 x kg shallots (or 2 x large leeks), diced
• 1 tsp garlic, crushed
• 500 g of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
• 250 ml (1 cup) beef stock (or vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)
• 85 ml (⅓ cup) red wine
• 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce or balsamic vinegar)
• 2 x bay leaves
• a bunch of fresh thyme, washed
• 1 heaped tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot powder to make it more primal)

Preparation
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic and shallots and/or leeks. Sauteé until translucent. In the meantime, pick the leaves off of the thyme, and chop the thyme stalks. Throw in the mushrooms, bay leaves and diced thyme stalks, and cook until soft. Add the wine, beef broth and sauce/vinegar. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer until the sauce reduces slightly. Maybe 20 minutes or so. Dissolve the cornstarch in a mug in 4 tbsps of cold water, and add into the saucepan. Simmer for about 10 more minutes, remove the bay leaves, and serve. :)

Merry Christmas from Kung Fu Café! | Sweet Potato Truffles & Coconut Chocolate Ganache

Here’s to seeing the end of 2013 with loved ones and continuing the good fight by achieving many more goals in 2014. Merry Christmas everyone!

This year has been an amazing year full of personal growth and lessons learnt. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings and whatever happens, if I continue to improve as I have been in 2013, then I’ll be stronger because of it. :)

These photos are the first photos I’ve taken with a background! I decided to give it a go as it was Christmas, and I absolutely love Christmas themed food photos! Not only was it a nice and simple challenge for me (i.e my first use of a background, albeit simple!), it captured what I love most about Christmas; preparing food especially for loved ones (although the meal was my mum’s, not mine!) and being grateful for everything.

My parent’s house is absolutely perfect for shooting photos; the kitchen is so rustic, the living room is very grand with pine furniture, dark leather sofas and a roaring fire, and the whole house is just absolutely bathed in light – there are windows everywhere! I love this place so much, and really don’t want my parents to scale down and sell it! I’ll buy it from them for my photography practice (for a greatly reduced price, of course ;) ).

Anyway, as you can see, these photos are of my Christmas dinner just before devouring it. So I’m very pleased with how these photos came out providing that it was a few quick snaps (although I did prepare the setting and gold reflector, candle and regular old orange lamp before dinner was served. I really like how the Christmas lights, candle and Bucks Fizz came are out of focus and the dinner looks so perfect. We didn’t eat around this table (hence why I could set up all of my photography stuff there!), but the meal was certainly as delicious as it looked! Thanks mum! :)

And for dessert, we had a friend’s Christmas pudding! She makes and sells them every year, not giving out her recipe, and packaging them in beautiful red crepe paper, plastic and gold string. This is where I got the inspiration for making my own paleo Christmas puddings! These ones are definitely different to conventional Christmas puddings in that they’re more moist and fruity. I think you can see how moist they are in my photos, and they’re slightly lighter in colour than regular puddings. But they were absolutely delicious! Today we had my Christmas puddings. :)

So, as well as making my own Christmas puddings, I’ve also been making paleo mince pies! The crust/pastry is made from a recipe I’ve adapted a little and is made from almond flour, egg and oil, and the middle is my own mincemeat creation that includes fruits soaked overnight in brandy and all sorts of Christmas flavours. Someone ordered 20 mince pies from me (without the tops; someone who ordered 12 mince pies from me said a mince pie isn’t complete without a top; differing opinions I suppose!) and tried to call me on Christmas eve to thank me and tell me that the pies were “unbelievable!” That definitely made it all worthwhile! I don’t make a massive profit from the foods I make, and if I’m going to go into business with this, I think it’s worth playing around with prices to see what is the biggest profit I can make without taking advantage of my customers; but the mince pies I only just scrape myself into a profit margin with the price I’m selling them for. Mince pies are so cheap in the supermarkets, but it’s so timely to make them by hand (pressing the pastry into the moulds, and forming the lids, too, not to mention making the mincemeat in advance). But I suppose that these mince pies would be more expensive as they’re homemade and are also gluten free, too!

You can also see in the photos below that the texture of the mince pie crusts are different, and I think that’s dependent on the coarseness of the almond flour I use, and also how much I pack the dough into the moulds. In some ways I like the large pies with a smoother crust, and having a bulging top means you can put more filling in the middle. But at the same time, I quite like having flat tops because you can stack them more easily.

Anywho, the recipe below is for sweet potato truffles/balls. I absolutely love these and they’re perfect for the Christmas season! I think they’re great for a healthier treat, especially if the ball is left plain or perhaps covered with nuts. And even if they’re covered in cocoa powder and chocolate ganache, at least they’re made with healthier and more natural ingredients, rather than all of these additives formed in a lab!

I think a large ball would be a great post-workout snack, as they’re chocked full of carbs like sweet potato, and fat like almonds. The photo below is a ball covered in cocoa powder, and it looks just like the MCCs (modified calcium carbonates) I work with! You can see an SEM (scanning electron micrograph) of an MCC grade in the left picture below. Of course, the MCCs and sweet potato balls are on a completely different size scale. :)

I made these relatively large. They were fairly small when plain, but after adding and rolling them in different things, they plumped up in size. I rolled them in currants, desiccated coconut, dried goji berries, crushed pistachio nuts, cocoa powder and hemp seeds. Some I even rolled in this delicious chocolate-coconut ganache (which I thoroughly recommend serving with any dessert!).



I think these would be great for parties, lunch boxes, snacks, post-workouts, as a breakfast on the go, a snack before bed… any time, really!

I would love to make these again, but a little smaller, and all covered in chocolate ganache. These would be great on any party table, especially around Christmas, as they just have so many Christmas-y flavours and tastes… not to mention colours! They’re perfect to give as gifts, too, especially if presented in a nice box with a ribbon. :)

Maybe these could even be made into some sort of cake/patty as a starter, but with apple incorporated into the mix instead of dates? Some experimenting is afoot!

It’s not necessary to blend the ingredients; you could just mash them. The dates would be better blended, but of course you could omit the dates (if sweetness isn’t your thing) and perhaps replace them with more sweet potato or oats or something. I would also love to stuff these with melted peanut butter! Now THAT would be amazing!


Boxing day WOD:
Leftovers for time! :)

Sweet Potato Truffles
Adapted from: Nutrition Stripped
Makes 24 truffles

Ingredients
For the truffles:
• 4 x small sweet potatoes
• 1 x cup of almond flour
• ¾ cup of rolled oats (or coconut flour)
• 1 cup dates or dried fruit
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp nutmeg
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• pinch of salt

For garnishing:
• *nothing*
• dried currants
• cocoa powder
• desiccated coconut
• dried goji berries
• crushed pistachio nuts
• raw shelled hemp seeds

For the chocolate ganache (makes how much?):
• ¼ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
• 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey

Preparation
For the truffles:
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 skins off (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!) pop them with the rest of the ingredients into a large food processor, and process until smooth.

I only had a small processor, so I processed the oats until they became flour, the dried fruit until it turned mushy, and mashed the insides of the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Then I homogenised by hand; it took a little longer but everything came together into a dough in the end.

Roll these balls out into as many truffles as you desire! :) I rolled them out into sizes about ¼ the size of the palm of my hand, and got 24. I could happily eat one in a large bit, or in two more moderate bites :)

For garnishing:
Roll each truffle into your chosen garnish, ensuring that you don’t smush the shape of the balls with your hand!

You could incorporate the cocoa powder into the actual ball itself to make it entirely chocolate.

For the chocolate ganache:
Melt the coconut oil over the hob (VERY gently) and take off of the heat. Add the maple syrup and cocoa powder, and stir to create a sauce. Add more coconut oil to make the sauce thinner, less coconut oil/more syrup and cocoa powder will make it thicker. I like mine thick! Let the sauce cool a little.

Roll each truffle into the chocolate ganache, or drizzle on top, and pop on non-stick baking paper. Store and cool in the fridge. Serve on a cool day (or immediately from the fridge) to ensure that the ganache will remain hard (otherwise the coconut oil will melt!). At this time of year in the UK, there will be no problems with ensuring that it remains cool!

Store in the fridge in an air tight container.

All baked in my lovely kitchen: 22.11.2013

Paleo Quiche with a Grainless Crust | Primal Games 3

What an event! The Primal Games 3 was just so epic! What a way to send off the old before moving into a brand new venue just down the road after Christmas. I can’t WAIT! :D The only thing that marred it was having to wash the Tupperware boxes when I got home. :P

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to compete this time, but was able to cater, along with a very strong and lovely physio friend, Sam (who makes a killer primal cheesecake!) :) …she’s pictured in the yellow hat below!

Well, who won the event? Crossfit Kernow! Followed by CFND (North Devon) coming in second place, and third place was taken by Crossfit Exe!

Everyone hit PBs in some kind of way, and the atmosphere was electrifying! It was so fantastic to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. One woman from Crossfit Avon told me that when she last saw me do a load of kipping pulls ups that it inspired her, and that’s something she holds in her memory bank. It really touched me and I’m so glad that I’ve made a positive impact on someone. It’s one of the most amazing feelings I’ve experience in life, and don’t think there are too many more feelings that can top that! :) I will remember that for the rest of my days, and will make a mental note to remember this when I’m feeling blue!

The food went down a treat! I hope we made a profit (yet to count everything up!). It all sold out (apart from a few salad boxes), and I had people throughout the day asking me for recipes for things, and got great feedback in general… I even already have people on Facebook and in person asking me for some more goodies! I’m so honoured!

On the menu we had:
*Savoury*
A huge salad (with tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, coconut, dried apple, nuts, egg, etc.) and dressing (balsamic vinegar and vinaigrette).
~ 25 slices of pork, apple and sweet potato meatloaf
~ 25 honey and lemon roasted chicken drumsticks
~ 20 homemade beef burgers
16 slices of paleo pizza (made with almond and coconut flour) topped with tomato, cheese, spinach and mushrooms

*Sweet*
24 slices of sweet potato pie with an chocolate-y oat-based crust
~25 banana & nut paleo brownie bites
~25 coconut brownie bites
~20 banana and date sponge cake bites
~ 20 protein balls made with a combo of nuts
~20 slices of primal cheesecake

And of course, there was Sam’s cheesecake. Oh boy, that stuff is lethal. If ever she is in my debt for anything, she’d have to pay me back in cheesecake, I’ve decided.

Throughout the day, I heard cheers and shouting and screaming and barbells hitting the deck. Unfortunately, where I was, I couldn’t see the action at all, so whenever I heard the crowd go wild I’d get this surge of energy go through me; I wanted to WOD so badly! And seeing these people perform was incredible! Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and seeing teams having to communicate and work together was definitely eye opening. Crossfit is very tactical, indeed.

Oh, and I even saw an amazing woman deadlift 165kg. I’ve never seen a deadlift look as easy as this one. It’s great to know that it is possible to do such feats! And Alan from CFP got a 130kg clean I believe! How cool is that?! I can’t even fathom lifting that much!

I was so worried about how the food would go down. Making food for over 100 people definitely came with its challenges, especially as I wasn’t using my own kitchen and equipment…. especially when the oven is very different to your own! And so things didn’t come out the way I had expected, and I worry so much as to what people will think of everything. It was lovely to have a kitchen other than my own to work in, but I think when you know your own gadgets, equipment and are in your own place, it’s so much easier!

The oven didn’t seem to cook the sweet potatoes well enough, and so I wasn’t very happy with how my brownies came out (they’re like my signature baking item, I suppose!), especially the banana ones, so I redid them, and they came out a little better. The gas oven in the kitchen I was working with cooked the brownies thoroughly on one side, but the other side remained uncooked, so I turned the pan around to even them up, but they just ended up being overcooked. I also wasn’t happy with the meatloaf in that the apple and sweet potato weren’t homogenised in with the pork as much as I would have liked. And I didn’t like me sweet potato pie because being unable to homogenise the sweet potato properly meant my pie looked slightly anaemic! And the pizza base came out too thick due to the size of the pan I had to use, but in some ways I think that actually was quite nice to have a thick crust, so people could sample some primal stodge!

I really hope that everyone feels as though the food warranted their money. Sometimes cooking for the masses takes the fun out of a hobby, and making things in a production line style takes away the time that you’d normally spend on preparing dishes for special, individual people. That’s not to say I didn’t put love and care into what I did, just that it was stretched out in such a short space of time, and there’s only so much to give!

I also spent the end of last week and weekend worrying entirely, not to mention the next few days I’ll probably spend worrying what people thought of the food! The day before and the morning of the event I was so nervous (as nervous as doing the Battle of London WODS, of which I cried during 2 out of 3 of them!)! I just need to learn to relax, focus on what’s at hand, and forget about what’s done. But I think that’s something a lot of us struggle with. :)

I would love to do this event again in the future (of course, if I’m allowed), but unfortunately we’ll have to see how my studies go down. Studying for a PhD full-time and doing other degree modules part-time, as well as training and general life is hard enough as it is, and I’d rather be decent at what I do than spread myself too thinly (as tempted as it is to take on more than what I can chew; I am rather ambitious!). We will have to see! But whatever happens nit he future, I’m a part of CFP’s history, and for that, I’m proud!



If anyone’s reading this from the Primal Games and feels to leave a genuine comment about the food, please leave a comment on this blog post (or on Facebook!); you can leave it here anonymously (or email me; go to the “contact” page), if you so wish.

Anyway, onto the recipe in this post!

I was also testing out a reflector I bought from Amazon. It’s awesome! It has four different reflectors and a diffuser that compresses into the size of something you can easily store in a cupboard. You can see in the photos above the difference with using no reflector and just natural light (on the left), and the silver reflector (on the right). It definitely highlights the colours a lot better than without. But different situations, angles, light and composition calls for different techniques. :)

I also have a 500W halogen lamp and a 135W 5500K tungsten lamp to try out, that I managed to buy cheaply! Can’t wait to try!



You can’t see the crust so well, as I had way too much egg filling, and after baking the crust (which naturally shrinks a little), the eggs spilt around the outside of the crust, and so was baked around it! But it tasted great, either way!

The egg mixture was very creamy! I liked it, but I think most people are used to their quiches with cheese. Cheese would have definitely gone down well! :)

Paleo Quiche with a Grainless Crust
Adapted from: Preppy Paleo
Makes 8 slices

Ingredients
For the crust:
• ¾ cup coconut flour
• ¼ – ½ cup melted butter or coconut oil
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:
• 5 x eggs
• ½ cup coconut milk (or regular whole milk, if primal)
• ½ tsp crushed garlic or garlic powder
• pinch of pepper
• 1 tsp salt
• any other fillings! I used mushrooms, chives, halved cherry tomatoes, and cooked pigs in blankets! :)

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

For the crust:
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl until well incorporated. Then press and spread into a cake tin (I used an 8/9″ diameter beautiful silicon cake mould), all up the sides, too, to make a pie case. Prick the dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.

For the filling:
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add in the remaining ingredients. Add to the pie crust and decorate as desired (with leftover mushrooms, for example), and pop into the oven for another 30-35 minutes, or until the centre is firm and cook through.

Leave to cool completely, as this enables it to be cut cleanly. Or can you just eat hot if you don’t mind slightly messy slices! :)

Baked: 14.11.2013

Paleo Pad Thai (sort of…) | Random Post Alert!

Phew! So how on earth am I going to summarise everything that I’d like to talk about in this post? Well, I can but try!


The day I cooked this was this summer and from what I remember it was a lovely day, not only because of the weather, but because we went to Mount Batten as a family. I love days like that, and reminisce about them frequently. As I’ve got older, I definitely cherish time with my family more and more. Not that I never did before, but I think now I just really appreciate the value of these moments and times, as there will be a time when we won’t be able to be together so easily anymore. Of course, life moves on and I’ll probably be with a partner, as will my brother, and my parents will be enjoying a life of not having teens and twenteens bothering them, but let’s just enjoy the now. I absolutely love Plymouth and my life here, but I just need to learn to separate myself from every day little stressors. (I have been in a little depressive mood all week, but maybe it’s a weather thing? Today is actually sunny and I’m looking outside of my windows and feeling pretty happy right now!) :)


Dad really really enjoyed this dish. That’s not to say that mum and Tim didn’t, but I knew this was dad’s sort of dish, and the fact that he enjoying my paleo spin-off was all the approval I needed!


I can be a little slap dash with food at times when getting it on the table, especially as I like to get it piping hot to my guests, but getting this colourful one-pot dish to look bad is difficult at best! This is definitely one of my favourite dishes to prepare.

It is paleo, but of course the peanuts aren’t. You can always sub them for cashews or some other nut. And of course I subbed noodles for cabbage, so it’s sort of a pad Thai. I just altered it to my tastes and needs, and the availability of ingredients. :) Also, the recipe called for sugar and tamarind paste, but I didn’t bother adding any of those, and the dish was still delicious, unique and had subtle exotic hints.

Anyway, I have a lot going on at the moment. Trying to keep up training with Crossfit (and those who Crossfit know that THAT encompasses EVERYTHING!) and staying motivated for the Battle of London (The London Throwdown), and next weekend is the The Primal Games at CFP, for which I’m catering (which takes about 3 days worth of work in total). Then I’m also actually (and finally!) being more social, so going out socially (wow, what’s happened to me!?), trying to pursue hobbies (such as cooking, photography, blogging, reading), and of course, the PhD. I have a lot going on with that at the moment. I’m demonstrating about 6-7 hours a week for 5 weeks, have two presentations to give in the next two weeks, and have a load of data I need to gather ASAP. Oh, and how could I forget… the Spanish course I’m doing with the OU!


I’ve been getting myself so worked up about things recently, and I feel as though I have to do everything all at once. I genuinely believe that you can have it all, but just not at once, which of course, is a shame. There are so many other things in life I’d love to do, but they just won’t ever happen. I just need to not take on too much at any one time. But then at the same time, we only have one life. I’m so lucky to have the one I have, and I’m just trying to make the most of it. But I think the key to unlocking the potential of any life is to be positive, and to not be dragged under by the little things.

Sometimes when I get so worked up over things, I think it means I need time off of it. I need to prioritise. Maybe I should stay away from food photography for a bit and focus on Spanish. No more working myself up over that and focussing on the PhD, too. I also haven’t been to Crossfit in 5 days (because I was away over the weekend, and then when I returned I felt so bad over my BOL WOD 1 that I just thought “what’s the point in doing Xfit if you’re so bad at it?!”), and next weekend I’m feeling the pressure of it being taken up as a result of catering for the Primal Games.

I think I need to emotionally detach myself from things, but not to emotionally detach myself from the enjoyment I get from them and wanting to better myself. For example, the other day I finally bought a new smartphone! I’ve had my old phone for possibly 6 years, and now I’d like an upgrade for several reasons. The main reason being to keep in touch with my boyfriend more easily I suppose, especially after I just saw him the past weekend for the first time in 4 months, and I don’t want to feel that detached from him if we ever have to go through another similar period, again! So this way, we have no excuse to not stay in touch with one another.


But the thing is, I don’t need a smartphone. Everything I have is perfectly functional; my current phone, an iPod, a digital camera… but I know I would use it and make full use of it, too!

Also, this week I spent some money on photography props; about £55 in total. I bought a reflector, a halogen lamp, and a tungsten lamp. I’ll definitely be trying them out, as I feel it’s the next step for me to work with (oh, and learning how to actually post-process my photos using Corel PSP X4, rather than doing nothing to them!). But I feel so guilty about it. Oh, and I spent some money on Kindle books, too. I feel so bad, and it’s been eating away at me, and it always does. I need to learn to either spend money or be happy with it, or not spent it and be happy with it. I mean, it’s not like I went out drinking, I invested in my hobbies.

But anyway, after 5 days of not training and after not doing well with the BOL WOD 1, I went training today, and felt amazing. I think I’m hardwired to move, socialise and create. That’s funny… isn’t that what we’re all hardwired to do? There are whole blogs and books and programmes out there designed to get people to do more of that stuff (Marks Daily Apple being one that comes to mind, for instance!); it’s a natural antidepressant. And as I keep saying, gives us purpose in life. I truly believe that that is the key to happiness.

Anyway, I’ll just briefly explain my Battle of London WOD 1. The WOD was as follows:
Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 12 minutes of:
20 Cleans 45/30kg
20 box jump overs 24/20″
20 Cleans 60/40kg
20 box jump overs 24/20″
20 Cleans 75/50kg
20 box jump overs 24/20″
As many cleans as possible at 90/60
Score = total reps.

I only got 126 reps. And I felt really bad afterwards. Comparing myself to other people in the box, I did the worst! Ok, don’t compare yourself, blah blah. Everybody does it. Sometimes it’s a good way to see where you are, but generally it is only a useless exercise. Because this is what it results in: self-torture.

I lamented for ages about how I should be better.

Ok, so I’m going to make excuses and say that perhaps it just wasn’t my WOD, although I do like power cleaning more than anything else, and I’m usually good at box jumps. I also don’t follow any program; I just turn up to group WODs. I think I did relatively well up to and including the 40kg cleans, but I was dreading the 50kg, and in my head I was telling myself how it’s nearly my bodyweight, how weak I am, and that I don’t want to go too fast because I’ll burn myself out… I was so tempted to give up and cry whilst doing the 50kg cleans, and that afterwards was the dreaded 60kg! I kept saying that I’ll never be able to get one, at 60kg, etc., etc. If it wasn’t for Shelley I really would have quite in the midst of the 50k cleans. I really freaked myself out and stalled so many times DURING the WOD (by going over to get chalk, looking at the bar, etc.). It’s funny because I had so much nervous energy, and after the WOD I still had energy, but the nerves had gone, and immediately came regret. Well, instantly I was relieved that it was over, but I didn’t get that feeling and buzz of awesome, I just absolutely floored myself. I would love to get the chance to re-do it. I’d change the way I did a few things, use the box jumps as a rest period, go all out on the cleans (as I know 30 and 40kg were relatively easy, 50kg was definitely heavier, but I definitely could have done them faster… and I only got 6 reps at 60kg… I attempted a few but didn’t rack the bar, because I was too scared to get under it. Funny thing is, is that even other people noticed that I just pulled the bar up to my chest and didn’t get under it and they were wondering why!?).

So that’s partly why I also feel really bad about myself and Crossfit at the moment.

And of course, I’ve been eating WAY too much recently! Or badly, too! As earlier, I’ve said that I’ve been going out socially a lot more, even for lunches at uni, a few parties and meals out, and a few coming up, and then of course it’s Christmas, I’ve been having more and more “one offs” as they’re not frequent… but these infrequent things are now turning into frequent things, and I can even feel myself saying in my head “go on, just this once, it’s not often!” I DON’T want to get into the habit of that! For example, I’m now eating more beans and grains than I once was, eating more sweet things, drinking less green tea and smoothies and eating more eggs and oats.

But it’s ok, I’m aware of it, and I will do something to fix it!

The most important thing I learnt though, and something I really need to drill into my head, is that I’m not perfect, and no one is. Was I expecting to be the best? I need to stop feeling to guilty, wrapped up in the past, things that have no importance. The important things were (and still are) is that my family and my significant other still love me, even if I performed “poorly” or have been eating too much. They still love me. It must be because of who I am, and not what I do. :) I guess I need to heed my own words a little better, as usual!

Another thing to add to my “wishlist” would be a high speed blender and a great quality juicer (to juice hard roots like carrots and sweet potatoes), both which will have to be easy to clean! Here is an interesting article in juicing v blending, and goes well with blog post summarising green smoothies and juices.

So now moving to a more positive note, I’ve prepped/tested out some foods for the Primal Games in a weekend’s time, and of course, they were delicious! The menu’s gonna be great, and I’ll also be working with another girl who is absolutely awesome at Crossfit and so lovely, too! It’s great to collaborate with likeminded individuals on such projects; makes it so much more fun! We’re also thinking about doing the European Inferno together, too!

And another lovely lady from CFP also gave me a sample of a couple of her own paleo treats! One of them being this banana bread and another being a sort of paleo fudge.

They were both delicious! This girl can cook! The banana bread was so moist and soft, and the fudge wasn’t sickening like regular fudge is. It was silky smooth and left a lovely aftertaste. She said that she didn’t like the fudge herself, as it was too sweet and the lighter layer was a bit watery. Yes, it was a little oily/drippy, but that’s just because of the ingredients used. I personally thought that it was delicious! I could have had a cup of tea and a huge mound of that stuff, and just stuffed my face all afternoon while sitting through this radiation safety lecture I had earlier today (as our lab has now turned radioactive!). I’ll definitely be getting that recipe from her! :)

Oh, and recently, Pete Howe, owner of Crossfit Taunton, has been featured on the most recent cover of Men’s Health! Not only is he an ex-marine and an awesome Crossfitter, but he’s bodyguard to Elton John and David Furnish… and I was in his team in the first Primal Games at CFP! He’s definitely an awesome guy, and on that day team spirit was high! I remember when I was determined to get that 60kg ground to overhead, and I warmed up with 55kg, after which he told me not to “peak too early” as a laugh, and assured me that the 60kg was easily mine. It really relaxed me, as I always get so nervous when it comes to competitions and always let myself and the team down!

And finally, Frankfurt! Let’s briefly chat about that. :)

My boyfriend (Ed! Let’s call him “Ed” from now on, instead of meticulously saying “my boyfriend” every time!) works far, far away ( :( ), and the company he works for sent him and all of the other graduates to a two week training thing in Norway. However, for insurance reasons, they can’t put lots of people on the same plane at the same time, and so he and a few others had to stop off at Frankfurt. They decided to stay for a few days, and invite their other halves over! And you know what? It was amazing!

I was ridiculously nervous about going, but I actually had nothing to worry about! I was nervous for a multitude of reasons; one being that I hadn’t seen Ed in over four months (work commitments, ugh! That dreaded ‘w’ word!), and meeting his friends and colleagues (of course, I wanted to make a good impression). I realised that I do get on with people and there are different levels that different people sit on within your life. Not to say that other people mean less but that only some people have prime significance in your life, and others come and go. Just enjoy the good ones when they come, and if they’re really good, treasure them. :)

We stayed in a lovely apartment-hotel that had a lovely swimming pool and sauna as well as being right near town! I really enjoyed the breakfasts we had in a little bakery on a quiet road, sitting outside and just chatting. Yes, I had pastries and bread! And honestly, they weren’t as good as I hoped (although they were good; it was actually quite nice for a change to not worry about what I’m eating and just eat whatever the heck I wanted!), but of course, the company was way better. :)

We also ate out in two lovely restaurants; one of them a traditional German place called Adolf Wagner (with long tables, rammed full of people and apple wine… basically cider!), and in an African restaurant (as you do in Frankfurt, you know!).

The German place did large platters of meats, which the others opted for (as they had to be a minimum of two people, I believe), but I’d had similar in Spain and I find that, personally, to be a rather boring option. I went for a different meal on the other hand, and Ed did, too! I went for veal liver with apple, mashed potato and salad, and it was very, very tasty (please see blurred image below!).

And in the African place, the six of us (three couples that night, as opposed to the four in total) went for three platters that involved a mix of their dishes, ranging from stews and dips, served on a large platter lined with Eritrean pancakes (Edit, 24.02.2014: I’ve found a link here saying that they’re Ethiopian Injera, and there is even a recipe for a few dishes of the dishes we seemed to have had!), and extra on top. Ed and I ate our way through the most! ;) We sat in a lovely mud hut inside the most buzzing of places, with really friendly staff and beautiful music and atmosphere. I didn’t take a photo, unfortunately, but I was hoping to nab it from someone else. I’ll add it if I get it! :) (Edit, 18.11.2013: Photo added! :) )

We even went to the zoo one afternoon, and managed to see quite a variety of animals! Well, of course we would at the zoo, but I meant that the animals all seemed to be ‘out’ that day. :)

I also loved the reptile house! Reminds me of my childhood, which was spent wanting to be a marine biologist, idolising Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin, and studying as much as I could about turtles. Oh, the memories! I also used to love safari videos and desperately wanted to visit a rain forest and conduct all sorts of studies and observations and go on all sorts of adventure and expeditions! Learning for the sake of learning! :)

In the picture below you can see me staring at my favourite fish! He just seemed like that grump cat you see on pictures all over Facebook and Tumblr these days! :)

Although the trip was only three days, I actually had post-holiday blues (mixed with the post-holiday buzz; how bizarre!). I felt really very loved throughout the trip and was just a weekend of indulgence, probably because it was a very long-awaited weekend! It was so nice to not think about work, be in a situation that felt dream-like, and to stay away from the internet and work! I can’t wait for the next weekend! Although, if Ed visits Plymouth, that would be great, but at the same time my mind is usually filled with work.

The last time Ed visited over Easter was lovely, although I remember fretting about work for a lot of the time. Maybe next time I’ll take a couple of days off and just have an extended weekend, just like in Frankfurt, and I’ll cut myself off of the internet, too. Maybe a bit of Crossfit and cooking (leisurely – just like the old times we had together), but apart from that, nothing else! I think I’m going to learn to cut myself off from the everything else. Another skill I need to add to my list of personal development and improvements! When’s the next weekend break!?

The photo of the gecko below was taken with an iPhone! How awesome is that quality?! You can even see his little tongue. :)

Wednesday WOD @ CFP:
In a 50 min window complete the following in any order:
A) OMEM for 10 – 1 Bear Complex (keep weight the same)
B) 3:00 max reps bench press 50/30
C) OMEM for 12 mins:
Even minutes 3-6 strict toes 2 bar
Odd minutes 3-6 strict HSPU’s
D) 3 x 400m run 1:1 work/rest
Yeah buddy


Paleo Pad Thai
Adapted from: Closet Cooking and About Thai Food
Serves 4

Ingredients
• 2 tbsp butter
• 2 x whole red chilies, diced
• 4 x cloves of garlic, grated or diced
• 2 x onions, diced
• a knob of ginger, grated or diced
• 4 x spring onions, diced
• 175g cooked prawns
• 2 tbsp dried coriander
• 60g dried mango, chopped
• 60g dried cherries
• ¼ cup of chicken stock
• 8 tbsp lemon (or lime) juice
• 3 tbsp fish sauce
• 3 tbsp soy sauce
• 4 tbsp roasted peanuts or cashews
• ½-¾ head of savoy cabbage, sliced into strips
• 2 x limes

Preparation
Heat the butter in a large pan/pot, turn the heat down to medium, and add the chilies, garlic, onions, spring onions and ginger. Sweat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add in the prawns, herbs and dried fruit, and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Pop in the chicken stock, lemon juice, fish sauce and soy sauce, cook for a few more minutes on medium-low. Then add in the nuts and cabbage, cover, and cook on low until the cabbage is soft like noodles.

Serve with lemon wedges and any extras. We had raw “giant sunburst peas,” olives, lime and homemade honey-mustard-mayo :)

Made for my beautiful family: 03.08.2013

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

Roasted Chicken, Grilled Sprouts and Satay Sauce

I finally managed to finish my report! Yipppeee! I’m actually rather proud of it, even if it doesn’t make the cut, or I don’t defend it successfully. I did what I thought to be correct and that’s all I can do. I think I’m going to enjoy this trip to the USA. Even if I don’t get the result I desire, I can’t do anymore, and that’s not reason to berate myself any more than I have.



And on top of being stressed out with reaching a deadline and getting up at ridiculous times in the morning just to sit in front of a screen to revise (and cope with a few other things going on!), I still had a lovely week! It’s all about mind set! And of course the epic events that happened…

Last weekend was the epic Tribal Clash… I’ve yet to upload photos and write a blog post with my mum’s upside down berry cake… but that’s for another time! I learnt that I’m actually not a bad trail runner and have a lot of potential (especially considering how often I go running!), I’m actually a pretty good swimmer (again, considering that I haven’t swam since I was in early secondary school!), and it’s just reinforced that I live in an amazing area! Oh, and of course the weekend was just so epic; the WODs were awesome; the people amazing; the weather fantastic… I’m so lucky!

I’ve also smashed the WODs at CFP this week! But I think that’s because of the kind comments people have been saying to me (everyone at CFP is so encouraging!), the buzz from the Tribal Clash, and the fact I’ve been ruminating over for the past several months: if I want to get any better, I have to really push it. It seriously is the mind that’s holding me back. I think I’m going to start by using affirmations before each WOD to rid myself of nervous negativity and limiting beliefs. I’m always afraid to give WODs my all, and even I’m not entirely sure why, because the reasons I come up with are always so pathetic and weak, but they have such a strong hold on me. If I’m going to improve or get any better, and get out of stagnating in the same spot, I really need to stop being a damn pussy! (Or quote ‘vagina!’)

And, as Tim’s away in the Pyrenees on a field trip for his degree course, and dad’s working in London, mum came to stay with me for a couple of nights! We ended up going to the supermarket, getting loads of fresh things (sprouts for 19p, cabbages for 25p, mushrooms for 50p – awesome!), and spent a weekend cooking, talking, procrastinating, and just enjoying each other’s company. It felt like some sort of holiday, especially as we also stopped off at China House for a cuppa on a beautiful day. This is why I hate working (as does everyone, I’m sure!); there are so many things to do in life that are to be enjoyed, not stressed about. Who wants to spent time working with people you wouldn’t see otherwise when you could be doing something else that’s far more enjoyable? No one, that’s who! ;)

Anywho, we went for coffee at The China House, and it was dead inside (early afternoon!) and also it’s beautiful inside! The excerpt on the website says this about the tavern:
“In 1768, William Cockworthy made the first hard porcelain produced in England In Plymouth. The porcelain was made from china clay, hence our name The China House. The building was first seen in a 1666 watercolour of Sutton Harbour painted by Sir Bernard Gromme and has been used for a variety of purposes, including a gun wharf and a hospital for ailing mariners.”

The menu is also serves as great inspiration for future meals! The menu seems simple but overpriced, which is why we don’t eat out. Not only is it cheaper to eat at home, but we enjoy our food more knowing what we’ve put in it, the hygienic conditions, and not to mention the relaxed atmosphere of eating at home. The only bad part is washing up afterwards! But I don’t mind, really :) It’s all part of the experience of eating in, and worth not spending the money for the disappointing experience of takeaways or eating out!

For example, we bought a packet of prepared sprouts for 19p, a load of mushrooms for 50p, a packet of cherry tomatoes for £1, a bag of spinach for £1, and 2 packs of bacon for £2. We defrosted some sausages, and had bacon, sausage, sprouts, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach! All pan-fried in the meat juices! It was really delicious! We steamed the sprouts though, and finished them off in the pan. :)

Anywho, here are some of the choices on the menu I may attempt in the future:
• Fried aromatic spiced calamari or seared salmon fillet with mango, pineapple and lime salsa
• Seared salmon served on a warm potato, broad bean and beetroot salad with dill and lemon crème fraîche
• Forestiere chicken breast stuffed with asparagus and mushroom mousse, served on mash with roasted flat mushroom and buttered pea, broad and green bean medley
• Aromatic braised pork belly served on bubble and squeak potato cake with black pudding, apple fritter and sticky ginger beer glaze
• Giant choux pastry bun filled with a white Belgian chocolate mousse, served with mango coulis

Yum yum!

Anyway, about this meal: I think there would be enough sauce to serve with 4 large meals (maybe can add some steamed new potatoes or another vegetable!), but with the portions we had, it would easily serve 6. I suppose that also depends if you want it swimming in sauce or just as an extra.

It is a rich sauce, but it’s very tasty and makes a change from gravy, curries, or any other type of sauce! I think it also goes really well with greens: kale, cabbage, sprouts, etc.

It’s also not paleo at on account of the peanut butter, but I have a feeling it’d be just as nice with almond butter. Although almond butter would definitely give it a different taste. It’ll be a nice experiment, anyway!

Monday’s WOD @ CFP:
OMEM for 20 mins
beg) 1 x power clean
int) 1 x power snatch
adv) 1 x snatch

In teams of 4 (alludes to the Wolf Pack Dominance Series!):
16 min AMRAP
500 squats
100 hang power cleans (60/40)
60 strict chin ups

Yeah buddy!



Roasted Chicken, Grilled Sprouts and Satay Sauce
Sauce adapted from: Simple Comfort Food
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
For the satay sauce:
• 400 ml (1 tin) coconut milk
• 3 heaped tbsps smooth peanut butter
• 1 generous tbsp honey
• 3 heaped tbsp Thai yellow curry paste
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 180 ml (¾ cup) water

For the meal:
• 4-6 chicken thighs, breasts or a whole chicken!
• Enough Brussel sprouts for your guests! :)

Preparation
Pop the chicken in the oven at 160°C for about 1h 15m – 1h 30m.

30 minutes before the chicken is done, steam the sprouts for about 20 minutes. Bring the sauce ingredients to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Take them out and pop them on a skewer (be careful not to burn yourself) and pop under the grill until they start to crisp up a little on each side.

Serve and enjoy! :D

Enjoyed with my lovely mother: 06.09.2013

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!