Raw Lemon Slice

Please note that if you don’t tolerate raw nuts or have a compromised GI tract, I recommend activating your nuts rather than using raw.

You will also note that the zest of two lemons are needed for this recipe but only the juice of one. Please don’t waste the second lemon, food waste break my heart and is a huge global issue. See 5 great ways to use the remaining lemon juice here. And don’t discard those lemon shells once you have used the zest and juice either! If you have a dishwasher, pop it in there for a cycle to keep it smelling fresh and let the acidic nature of the lemon clean your dishwasher, naturally.

Base Ingredients

  • ¼ cup rice malt syrup
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup raw/activated cashews
  • 1T coconut oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp raw maca powder

Top Layer Ingredients

  • 2 ½ to 3 cups flakes plus 1T coconut oil (makes approx. 1 cup of coconut butter)
  • 100g raw/activated macadamia nuts
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 whole lemon
  • ½ tsp Vanilla powder
  • Pinch of pink salt
  • 1T rice malt syrup
  • Extra coconut flakes or shredded coconut for decorating.

Method

  1. Place all dry ingredients for the base into your Thermomix or high powered blender and pulse until you achieve a crumble of the desired consistency. I like mine with a little bit of crunch.
  2. Add the rice malt syrup and coconut oil and combine until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Line a slice tray with non toxic baking paper and press the mixture into the tray to form the base of your slice. Be sure to compact it tightly. Pop this into the fridge while you make the top layer.
  4. Give you Thermomix or blender a clean so its ready for the top layer.
  5. Add the macadamia nuts to your Thermomix or blender and pulse until they form a fine macadamia meal (like almond meal). Put this into a bowl and set aside.
  6. (If you have pre made your coconut butter, you can add that and skip this step). Add the coconut flakes and coconut oil and pulse until it forms the consistency of coconut butter. This will take several minutes so be patient.
  7. Add all other ingredients including your macadamia meal and pulse until well combined.
  8. Pour this mixture on top of your slice base and spread the mixture out evenly. Sprinkle with coconut flakes or shredded coconut.
  9. Allow this to set in the fridge for approx 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until firm.

 

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Accepting the uncontrollable

There are things in my life that are completely within my control, things that I have some control over and then there are things that I have no control over what so ever. I have learnt to embrace this reality, to adapt and to keep moving forward.

We can create all the structure, routine and good habits we like, but life will always bring situations and circumstances that we simply cannot plan for or control. However, I have come to the beautiful realisation that these unplanned bumps in my journey will only create stress and frustration in my life if I let them. You see, its not what happens around us that really shapes the life we live, its the way we react to what happens that makes the biggest impact. Say for example you’re about to catch a plane to a beautiful tropical destination for a week long holiday (oh yes please!) but the weather has turned really crappy and you’re going to be delayed 2 hours. This unplanned situation is something you literally have no control over. The weather and the delay its not really the problem. The problem occurs when you chuck a hissy fit and sit in the waiting lounge sulking like a little kid. You have just turned the start of your beautiful holiday to shit because you chose to react like a victim. But really, in the grand scheme of this amazing life you’re living (hello, you’re going to be surrounded by salty sea air for the next 7 days!) what the heck does a 2 hour delay matter? You need to adapt a positive attitude – ‘oh well, I’m on holidays, I might as well grab a wine while I’m waiting!’. Its that simple. But (there’s always a ‘but’ right?!) it will take practice and perseverance on your behalf. Start choosing to react in a positive way so that situations don’t become negative.

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Be adaptive. Roll with the punches! Take on whatever life gives you and accept the changes without frustration. The day I stopped spending so much time trying to mould my life into what I thought it should be (what I thought I wanted it to be) was the day I discovered, that going with the flow is a truly awesome way to live. Its easy, its less stressful and it creates adventure! And it ties in so perfectly with another favourite of mine: Taking. It. Slow.

The first and most important step in this, is realising that you cannot control everything. Its a basic truth of life and deep down we all know this. Its not even a case of unexpected things maybe happening, its a case of they will happen.  Swap the forceful and un-open attempts of control in your life for open-hearted, warm attempts of influencing instead. Then, surrender to the universe when your influence has no impact. The unexpected can be beautiful, if you just slow down and get some perspective.

When we try to control things, what exactly is it that we trying to achieve? A perfect life? What is that anyway? To me, a perfect life is one full of happiness and love. You can have everything else under the sun, but if happiness and love are missing, you will be miserable. On the contrary, you can have nothing but love and happiness and live a wonderful, blessed life. So what’s the difference between the two? One depends on control and one doesn’t…control quote 2Life is a flowing journey with millions of potential paths. Its always moving, changing, getting messier and more chaotic. But its always beautiful. When we look at it through grateful eyes and with an open heart, the bumps and unexpected changes mean so little, they are just part of it all. Part of this amazing, beautifully chaotic life. Embrace it. The more we practice living this way, the more natural it will become until one day, something unexpected and crappy will happen around you, and you will just deal with it, calmly, without even realising that you aren’t letting it effect your day. When chaos can surround you and you have the ability to remain calm and content on the inside? Wow. That is happiness. And this is how it should be. Your happiness is one thing that you do have control over.

 

 

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Coconut Butter

You can buy this stuff at health food stores but its pricy and sometimes has added sugar and preservatives. But, lucky for your, its so simple and cheap to make yourself!
Know that you can’t stuff this recipe up! And you don’t have to follow the recipe to a tee, play with it.

Ingredients

  • 200g of shredded coconut or coconut flakes (you can use more but you will need at least this much)
  • 2T coconut oil (if desired, its not necessary)
  • Pinch of vanilla powder or a few drops of vanilla essence

Method

  1. Place all ingredients into a high powered blender and turn to high.
  2. The mix will first form a ball and then slowly start to become creamy and smooth.
  3. Keep blending until you get the desired texture. Some people like it a little crunch and others like it really smooth and creamy.
  4. Store in a dark jar or in a clear jar in a dark place.

Uses

  1. Eat straight from the jar!
  2. Make my Raw Lemon Slice
  3. Use as a spread
  4. Drizzle melted over fruit
  5. Use as a cream replacement in desserts
  6. Add raw cacao to make a chocolate spread/sauce
  7. Use it to make white chocolate bark or super food balls!

Coconut butter

 

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After Dinner Mints

This recipe made 20 small mints.
Each mint contains roughly 3g to 3.5g of sugar (this will vary depending on the size of your case and amount of coconut mix in each)

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks of Green & Blacks 85% dark organic chocolate (I choose this chocolate because of its very few ingredients, its extremely low sugar content, is fair trade and the fact that its easy to find at any supermarket)
  • approx 1/2 cup of coconut butter
  • 1T peppermint essence
  • Mini cup cake cases (I found mine at the local supermarket)

Method

  1. Break your chocolate bar into pieces and place them into a heat safe bowl. Then place that bowl inside a pot full of water (so they water goes half way up the bowl) and heat this over low heat on the stove top until your chocolate has melted.
  2. Spoon chocolate into each mini cup cake case so that the base is covered with approx 2-3mm of chocolate.
  3. Once you have chocolate in all cases, put them into the freezer and allow the chocolate to harden.
  4. While the first layer is in the freezer, mix your peppermint essence and coconut butter until well combined. You may need to warm up the coconut butter slightly if you haven’t made a fresh batch. Be sure to taste the mix and add more peppermint if you like it really minty!
  5. Take the cases out of the freezer once they are set. Spoon a small amount of the coconut mix into each case on top of the set chocolate layer. I used my finger for this so that I could shape the coconut mix into small discs and place them right in the middle of the cases. If you want a more rustic look, just spoon it in and leave it with a rough peak.
  6. Pop these back into the freezer and allow the coconut mixture to harden. (I didn’t do this at first but the peppermint oil will rise to the top and your mints will have a white layer on top if you skip this step)
  7. Once the coconut mixture is hard, you can take them out and then spoon the chocolate mixture into the cases, just enough to cover the white centres.
  8. Pop into the fridge and allow to set.

 

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Talking sugar addictions with Jenine from Foodness.com.au

I’m a sugar addict. I’ve quit the stuff a few times now but each time, it has snuck back into my diet. Its a work in progress, one which I am determined to succeed at! Today I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Jenine from www.foodness.com.au  about her journey with quitting sugar.

Hi Jenine, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me and my readers today. Can you tell us your story?

Thanks so much for inviting me to chat to you and your readers, Rach.
I am a busy wife, mum, step-mum, singing teacher, healthy food blogger and Food Coach.  I am about to turn 42 and I feel better now than I did 10 years ago thanks to quitting sugar. I am a reformed chocoholic. I honestly could not get through my day without chocolate.  I thought having one small chocolate bar a day was no big deal. Little did I know this one little chocolate bar along with all the other hidden sugars I was eating was so detrimental to my health. I considered myself a healthy person, I didn’t add sugar to anything, I rarely ate cakes, biscuits, lollies, sweets or soft drink I only drank juice with no added sugar.  I ate everything low fat, with a considerable amount of carbohydrates in the form of various whole grains such as grain bread, rice, muesli & other “healthy” cereals. I ate a lot of salads with low fat dressings, I used fat-free packets and jars of sauces, lots of fresh fruit, I didn’t eat fat, I cooked with canola oil & I never ate butter.  I didn’t eats chips or junk food on a regular basis, I was essentially doing everything that was promoted as healthy eating by my doctor and following the Australian healthy food pyramid yet my health was deteriorating.

I had high blood pressure that my doctor wanted to medicate, I was having anxiety attacks and heart palpitations, my hormones were having a party of their own that I wasn’t invited to, I was tired and irritable all the time, not sleeping well and waking feeling tired all the time, the first thing I would do was make a cup of coffee. I was suffering with dermatitis on my hands in particular under my wedding ring, I had joint pain in my knees and a ganglion the size of a large marble on my right knee and I wasn’t yet 40!  I had always been slim however weight was slowly creeping on, my belly was often bloated and it didn’t make sense to me when I ate what I, and the vast majority of medical professionals considered a healthy well balanced diet.

My hormones had become so bad and my monthly cycle was out of control and far from monthly more like fortnightly. My doctor wanted to put me on The Pill or suggested I try the Mirena® implant however I knew enough about these synthetic hormones to know I didn’t want them in my body.  So she suggested I have an operation either an Endometrial Ablation or a hysterectomy – now this scared me, a lot! I didn’t want either of these operations not at my age.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands and I began scouring the internet for what could be causing not only my hormonal imbalance but the other health issues I was having.  I thought I would find a magic herb or vitamin that would cure my ailments, not that I hadn’t tried numerous supplements before. But the one word that kept coming up over and over again was SUGAR! I couldn’t initially get my head around it because I didn’t consider myself as having a high sugar diet but I dug further and learnt how to understand food labels, there was my answer. Sugar, lots of it was hidden in everything I was eating. Let me give you an example, for breakfast I would have a bowl of sultana bran with low fat milk, no added sugar and a chopped banana . Now that bowl of sultana bran contained almost 25% sugar in the entire bowl before even adding the in the fructose in the banana. The amount of fruit I was eating per day was on average 6-8 serves a day, that was a heck of a lot of fructose but it was healthy right? Well that fructose can be a sneaky little guy. I started reading “I Quit Sugar” by Sarah Wilson and “Sweet Poison” by David Gillespie and on the 1st February 2013 I quit sugar!

For those who don’t know, why is sugar and fructose in particular, so bad for us?

Refined sugar also known as sucrose is a 50/50 combination of glucose and fructose. Fructose is also known as “fruit sugar” and often regarded as healthy because it comes from fruit. Refined sugar is highly inflammatory, it is completely void of any nutrients, it is as addictive as cocaine, it causes rapid sugar spikes in the body leading to massive crashes which make us tired and irritable. Sugar causes you to be hungry again very quickly as it is not filling and interferes with the hormone leptin which tells us when we are full, sugar doesn’t contain any healthy fats which provide satiety and triggers leptin. Sugar interferes with hormone balance not just leptin but also cortisol. Cortisol helps maintain blood sugar levels (among other things) together with insulin but when this becomes unbalanced a whole chain of hormonal imbalances start to occur. I could go on for pages about the effects of sugar on hormones.

Fructose aka fruit sugar is sent to the liver for instant energy, which is not a huge problem in itself as typically the body uses this energy to help us out run tigers or hunt for food – oh but hang on we don’t do that anymore, we usually drive to the nearest shop for food and we generally don’t outrun predators on a regular basis. So in a nutshell what happens is this energy source (fructose) doesn’t get used and our liver becomes over loaded with it so in turn the liver converts it to fat – to save for later (stored energy) when we are in famine, when food is scarce no thanks to a drought or extremely cold winter and we use that fat for energy to keep us warm and survive –  oh but hang on that doesn’t happen anymore either as food is in abundant supply, it’s everywhere we just need to drive to the supermarket to buy a packet of cereal, some bread, jam, yogurt and fruit – all loaded with sugar and fructose.  So you can see here the vicious cycle of hidden sugars and too much fructose. I am not suggesting you don’t eat whole fruit however be very mindful of where else you are consuming fructose/sugar. Whole fruits are a great source of vitamins and fibre but I personally do not need 6-8 serves a day.

When it came to my hormones and sugar it was all about reducing the imbalance of blood sugars, hence quitting sugar.

Anyone, including myself , who has tried to cut the sugar habit will know that its an extremely hard thing to do. The reason behind this is that sugar is addictive, and highly so. The big question and one that I am personally very interested in discussing, is how did you go about quitting?

I’m not going to lie, it was hard.  But I set my mind to it, my motivation came from not wanting to end up on the surgeons table and not wanting to struggle continuously to keep weight off.  I chose to go cold turkey with all sugars, I cleared the pantry & fridge of all packaged foods, sauces, jams, muesli bars, cereals, fruit juice……and I also stopped eating fruit however I found within a few weeks I was really struggling without fruit so I reintroduced it but only 2 serves a day.  Increasing my fat intake in the forms of coconut oil, avocado, macadamia oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds really helped reduce my sugar cravings as I wasn’t hungry, I always felt full.  I also supplemented with Chromium to help regulate blood sugars.  By about week 6 I started introducing homemade treats using Rice Malt syrup which is fructose free and I admit at first I went a bit crazy with it and the sugar cravings started to return so I had to lay off the Rice Malt syrup. I found eating sweet vegetables such as pumpkin and beetroot also helped combat the cravings, eventually these vegetables became really sweet to me.  My taste buds were revived, everything I ate began to taste so much better. I was eating real whole foods and I felt amazing.

And what advice can you give to someone who has tried to quit before but struggled? (eh-hem, like me)

Don’t give up, I know that sounds cliché but it’s so true. Set small goals such as getting through one day at a time without sugar, those days will turn into weeks quickly. Keep focused on the health benefits be it losing weight, feeling more energised, healing your hormones, clearing your skin, less mood swings - it will all happen that I guarantee.  Keep a diary of how you feel, physically and emotionally. Learn to recognise what triggers the cravings.  At first you’ll feel good then you may feel pretty lousy for a few days but know that like any addiction the bad days will pass and the good days will outweigh the bad.  Find something to distract you, for me it was learning to make everything from scratch without sugar, it became an obsession but I got really good at it and reaped the benefits.

How long can someone who wants to quit sugar expect the cravings to last?

Everyone is different and it comes & goes. I found within 6 weeks initially my sugar cravings had really subsided but like any addiction it can return quickly.  For me all it takes even now is a holiday away and it’s not the sugar as such it’s the carbohydrates which trigger the same sugar high and lows in the body – that really sets me back. But I don’t beat myself up, I dust myself off, get up and know that it was only a temporary set back – up and on! I still crave sugar at times but I  know how to manage it and deal with it now.

Any tips on what we should stock our pantry’s and fridges with to empower us to quit the sugar habit?

Just. Eat. Real. Food. One of my favourite sayings from Dr Libby “Mother Nature get’s it right and human intervention can get it so wrong”

Healthy plant based fats such as nuts such as walnuts and almonds, seeds in particular chia seeds plus avocados & coconuts either whole coconuts, cream, dried (without sugar), oil, yogurt or butter. Lots of fibrous green vegetables and swap your carbs to plant based sweet vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, beetroot instead of wheat based pastas, replace rice with quinoa.  Low fructose fruits such as citrus fruits and berries. If you eat dairy choose full fat dairy, organic butter, cheeses such as goats or sheep’s cheese and haloumi. Ideally organic natural yogurt with no added fruits add your own berries and chia seeds for a truly satisfying snack. Cacao is mother nature’s chocolate before sugar and other nasties are added to it, introduce it slowly as it will seem bitter at first, start by adding it to smoothies with berries and the bitterness will eventually subside. Organic eggs, don’t be afraid of the yolks, are a great satisfying breakfast and snack, I take a hardboiled egg to work most days. If you eat meat choose grass fed locally farmed free range or organic, you can really do without the GMO grains that conventionally farmed animals are fed and you end up ingesting. When you re-introduce sweet treats free of refined sugars, don’t go overboard still consider it a treat. Choose your natural sugars wisely many are still high in fructose but many have nutritional benefits that may benefit your health.

Keep lots of fresh herbs and spices on hand. Add flavour to your food with herbs such as mint, coriander, basil, parsley, rosemary, garlic, turmeric & ginger. Add pure vanilla to smoothies for sweetness and cinnamon too. Also herbs such as mint & basil taste amazing in smoothies or juices along with ginger. Infuse your water with herbs like lemon-balm & mint with fresh slices of lemon and lime.

I am pleased to say that I no longer need to have any operations or take artificial hormones, my monthly cycle is regular and normal, I do not suffer with PMS or severe mood swings. I have no dermatitis, my ganglion on my knee has gone, I have more energy than ever, I no longer crave coffee when I wake up, my blood pressure is normal and I no longer have anxiety attacks. My weight is healthy, I initially lost around 5kg’s and they haven’t crept back on, I actually no longer think about my weight, I do not weigh myself I gauge my body on how I feel and I feel wonderful, if I can quit sugar then you can too.

This advice is so practical and a lot of things have hit home for me during this conversation with you, I bet there are a few readers who feel the same. Thanks again for chatting with me today Jenine, its been so lovely.

For my readers, you really must check out the array of sugar free recipes Jenine has developed here.  Below are some of her most popular sugar-free dishes (click on the image for her recipe)

 

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Bubble bars

 

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Beetroot infused quinoa & kale salad

 

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Healthy sweet muffins

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Banana-nut bites

These little guys are a bit fiddly to make but well worth the effort. I suggest reading the recipe in full before you start so you know what your doing – this will ensure it doesn’t turn into a big chocolatey mess (although that doesn’t sound so bad!) The recipe below made 14 bites but it will depend on the size of your banana’s and also how thick you cut your slices.

Ingredients

  • 2 banana’s
  • organic peanut butter or almond butter
  • approx 1/3 of a block of Green & Blacks 85% dark chocolate

Equipment

  • 1 large pot
  • 1 small heat proof bowl
  • toothpicks
  • knife
  • plate

Method

  1. Put your banana’s and plate in the freezer (don’t completely pre-freeze the banana as it will turn mushy, you just want it nice and cool to help the chocolate set quickly)
  2. Put your chocolate into the heat proof bowl and then place that in the pot. Fill the pot with water so that it’s about 3/4 of the way up the bowl.
  3. Heat your pot of water (which contains your bowl of chocolate) over medium heat until the chocolate is completely melted. Heating indirectly like this ensures the chocolate doesn’t burn.
  4. Once melted, take the bowl out of the water and place on the bench where you will be assembling the bites. Have your jar of peanut butter/almond butter ready on the same bench.
  5. Take your plate and one of the banana’s out of the freezer and slice it into discs.
  6. Grab a disc and put peanut/almond butter onto it, then put a second disc on top to create a bite size banana ‘sandwich’.
  7. Stick a toothpick through the middle so that it pierces both discs and holds them together. Make sure the toothpick is only sticking out one side (like a banana bite lolly-pop)
  8. Using the toothpick as a handle, roll the bite in your chocolate so that the outside is covered.
  9. Now dip the base in the chocolate. At this stage you should only have the end where the toothpick is sticking out of that isn’t covered in chocolate.
  10. Now, poke the toothpick though so you can grab the other end, then jiggle it over your cold plate so that it slides down the toothpick and the end that doesn’t have chocolate on it ends up sitting on the plate.
  11. Pull the toothpick out so that your bite is left on the plate. You can lightly touch the hole that the toothpick left with your finger so that the chocolate fills it in.
  12. Put the plate with your banana bite back into the freezer to allow the chocolate to set quickly, otherwise it will run off the banana bite.
  13. Grab two more banana discs and repeat the process. When you dip the bottom of the bite into the chocolate, you can leave it sitting there while you grab the plate from the freezer. Then pop the second one onto the plate and put it back into the freezer. (Idealy you would work with a second person and they can be at the freezer grabbing the plate out just for you to put your bite one, then placing it back in the freezer)

 

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