Monday, 29 July 2013

On My Soapbox...

I've just been down to my local Sainsburys with my children to get some food for their packed lunches tomorrow; I'm taking them to Whitby for the day with some friends. I always read labels on food and most of the time it drives the children crazy! They go"mum, why do you have to do that. Why can't we just eat what we like". And so follows a long explanation as to why they shouldn't eat most of the ingredients in processed food boxes, packets, jars, bars etc. 

Tonight was no exception, we finally settled on a packet of crisps that are actually made of potato and have only another four ingredients. That took a while! Then at the till they spotted a box of Mr Kipling Bakewell Slices , so to justify my answer "no" I read the back of the packet. Unbelievable!!! Under ingredients there was a list which filled half the box - over 35 ingredients it apparently takes to make this famous 'exceedingly good cake'.Reading through the list I spotted over five different sugars, all of which are very refined, plus several flavourings which I had never heard of, plus wheat, soya and every other conceivable allergy producing food out there..

I came home, checked out the Mr Kipling website and all of their products contain similar numbers of ingredients. I'm astounded, I can bake a cake with four ingredients, none of which are harmful to health; all of which are in fact health giving. I emailed Mr Kipling, much to Nats horror ( he's changing his name!) to ask why on earth they need so much rubbish In their products, and that I hope they are happy contributing to the terrible state of the nations health. Lets wait and see what their response is, I'm sure it'll be pretty standard. I felt better for sending it anyway. 

I'll stick to my Sweet Enough baking, staying clear of nasty, toxic sugars, refined flours, vegetable oils, and unpronounceable flavourings because I love my body too much to pollute it with this refined rubbish, with literally No natural ingredients. Where's my soapbox??!!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ruth's Snack Mix Recipe

I made my snack mix up just by throwing all my favourite ingredients into a bowl one day; it tasted awesome and I've loved it ever since. The ingredients/ratios/quantities are not set in stone by any means so if you fancy having a go, use your imagination. Let me know if you come up with any unusual combinations. 
My friend Lindsey introduced me to dried mulberries; fabulous taste and texture and they look so unusual- so a big thanks to her! 

Ingredients :

100g approx of the following ingredients will make a large bowl full :

Goji berries
Toasted almonds
Toasted cashew nuts
Pan toasted sunflower seeds
Pan toasted pumpkin seeds
Toasted coconut flakes
Toasted dessicated coconut
Xylitol sweetened chocolate chips
Dried mulberries

Method :
1. Combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined.

This mix is an amazing energy boost mid morning, mid afternoon, or after exercise. Perfect to top yoghurt and fruit, in fact it's just perfect. When I put it in portion sizes it reminds me of the little Graze boxes I used to order years ago! 

I always have some in my bag or in my car, to avoid reaching for something less healthy in a 'needy' moment!! 


Monday, 1 July 2013

Hot hot hot

I was lucky enough to be introduced to Hot Yoga a couple of weeks ago by a couple of friends who have been doing it a few weeks longer than me. I've heard about it but never managed to find a class 'up north'. They've always been hundreds of mikes away, so I jumped at the chance and have to say I LOVE IT!! 

Despite looking like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards by the end of the hours session, and dripping wet! (Not felt like this since being in Las Vegas humidity years ago)  I feel energised, way more supple and flexible than when I went in, and also really calm inside. I've always been an adrenaline rush chaser, until my health challenges made me re look at my exercise regime, and yoga fits in just right where it needs to.

Sophie, our instructor is gorgeous, tall, statuesque and very calming - I felt welcome and part of the group within minutes. The room was heated up very quickly with several infra red heater mostly situated on the ceiling. I felt the need to go and open a window at first, almost feeling claustrophobic; but I resisted!  Don't think it would have gone down too well! 

Just wanted to blog today after researching a little bit about the benefits of Hot Yoga, and why it came about and to really recommend to anyone who wants to improve their mind and body at the same time.

Sweating is obviously great for getting rid of toxins, as the skin is the body's biggest organ. Heavy sweating is said to flush the toxins from the skin. Sure we can all do with a bit of this!

Flexibility and Suppleness  
Hot Yoga warms up the muscles quickly and safely and really does allow you to go deeper into postures than you normally would. I was amazed during out two hour session on Saturday that I could get into a 'crab' position that I don't think I've been able to do since I was about fourteen!! I also find that if I do normal yoga in the morning I'm usually a little stiff from my nights sleep. Not so with Hot Yoga!

Heart Rate
The heat of the room increases the heart rate, making the body work harder, to get some intensity, which is what I love. I need to feel I've really worked out after an hours exercise session, whatever it is, and that's what I found so difficult to achieve when I gave up the adrenaline rush stuff. Hot yoga meets my needs in a non-cortisol infusing way.

At the same time as raising the heart rate Hot Yoga produces an overall feeling of relaxation and calmness. With my type A personality I so need to come down to earth regularly and this really hits the spot.

I found it great for totally focussing the mind. Abit like meditation , but for me even better. I had fewer random thoughts popping into my head! 

Sophie reminds us all the way through to take liquids on board, and now provides flannels for discreet mopping of the brow, and other such areas!!! I drank several litres of water on Saturday afternoon, after a mornings session. 

Sophie's sessions are at GOYOGA at Hornbeam Park, Harrogate. 

I'll be back on Tuesday; can't wait.

There's always an alternative

When I was told last year that I wouldn't be able to eat sugar, or anything the body turns to sugar, due to a health challenge I panicked!! My first thought was "I can't do it". I grew up surrounded by family members who baked, and cooked the most fabulous desserts, puddings, biscuits, cakes, and treats. To say this has left me with a sweet tooth is an understatement. I had to have a major chat with myself and it became a mind over matter challenge.

Sugar in one form or another is in virtually ALL processed foods, making it very difficult to avoid and very easy to overdose without realising. Most people 'drip feed' sugar into their bodies through regular consumption of the likes of ketchup, mayonnaise, crisps, sweets, chocolate, crackers, crisp breads, bread, pasta sauces, puddings, ice cream, cereal bars, fizzy drinks or roasted nuts...

For the first week of my 'challenge' I went cold turkey. Nothing whatsoever that was even vaguely sweet passed my lips . I did it, but my enjoyment of food decreased massively. I needed something sweet! I've always loved baking and experimenting with food, and as a personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach , have always tried to eat healthily most of the time (80/20 rule) but did have sugar 'binges' sometimes.

But my health became way more important than eating sugar and sugary products. I've heard it said before that people have a real mindset change when challenged with an illness and its possible to overcome almost anything. I also believe that there is always an alternative route - so I started to experiment with food alternatives that would satisfy my sweet tooth but enhance my health rather than take away from it.

I played with fruits, vegetables, gluten free oats, Xylitol instead of refined white sugar, sprouted grain flours instead of refined white flour (awesome - the body treats them like vegetables), and Raw honey instead of processed honey and other sweet syrupy substances. I'm still playing and experimenting and I'm loving it so much I've written a mini E recipe book, and am already on to books two and three with the aim to publish a hard backed book next year. 

They say everything happens for a reason, and I've found new direction and what I now define as my 'calling', my reason for being. Sugar is so detrimental to health it should come with a warning. I believe it will some day soon. In the meantime my aim is to alert people to its dangers, to offer alternatives to satisfy the mind and body, and generally get on my soap box as much as possible on this fascinatingly important subject. We're never going to get away from the fact that we are born with a naturally sweet tooth, so why not work with it using good, sustainable energy foods, instead of empty calorie, nutrition free rubbish that will harm rather than heal.

Here are a few ideas for substitutions if you're struggling : 

Eat gluten free porridge or Oaty pancakes for breakfast rather than cereals full of sugar, salt and wheat,

Have snacks made up of fruit and nuts/seeds instead of cereal bars.

Bake with Xylitol , RAW honey and Stevia instead of white/brown refined sugar.

Eat home made popcorn instead of crisps,organic if possible. Great fibre! 

Use coconut oil or extra Virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

Buy jam with no added sugar (or nasty sweeteners) - or make your own using Xylitol. So easy!!

Make your own puddings and desserts. Chocolate mousse can be made so easily with Avacado as the base! And you would never know!

Eat very dark chocolate, preferably organic and raw rather than the processed varieties. 

These are just a handful. There are so many other ways. Check me out on Facebook Sweet Enough for lots of ideas. 

In summary, it's very possible to obtain sweetness in food without succumbing to processed foods. It takes a little planning  and effort to start with , but you'll soon get the hang of it. So much so that you'll   wonder why you didn't try it a long time ago. 

Have a great healthy day.