Friday, 27 February 2015

Stevia- the reason for my skepticism

Happy Saturday everyone! Who's excited for the weekend? This girl!
And boy, do I have a post planned for you today!
Topical, debatable and will probably remain that way even after I've blurted out a full post of wisdom, because that's the way of the world!
If you've been reading this riveting blog for a while now you may have learned that I do not eat sugar. But that's a lie in itself. Check out a typical snack of mine:
That's quite a bit of sugar right there in that pic. Around 20g even.
What I mean when I say I've stopped eating sugar, is I've stopped eating the white processed stuff shown in the above pic.
Why is that? Because I don't need it.

Our bodies need sugars to function- to provide energy, to be stored as fuel etc. Without it we would cease to function.
However our bodies only need a certain amount of sugar to function properly and excess can be detrimental to our healths. We know this. Scientific studies have proved this. And yet there is still so much confusion.

I choose to get my sugar intake from fresh fruits and veggies. I do not eat table sugar or cookies with cups of sugar, or jelly lollies, or white chocolate  and yes, the list goes on. What we must remember though, is sugar is sugar, no matter where it's hidden. I am still eating sugar and it holds the same effect in the body as ingesting a teaspoon of sugar would, however I choose to eat the tablespoon of sugar along with another tablespoon of fiber and vitamins and minerals.

But sugar is sugar, no matter what the form.

This is a very simplified view of sugar though. Table sugar v fruit. It's not that simple to decide right and wrong. Fruit wins because of the added benefits above the sugar, but what happens when we introduce the other game changers? Brown sugar, raw sugar, pure maple syrup, agave nectar and the most popular it would seem, stevia.

Now, brown sugars and molasses and nectars are all types of sugar as well and are simply less refined than table sugar, which means they create less of a spike to your blood sugar levels when ingested. But they are still sugars.

Stevia on the other hand is an interesting one. Stevia is from a plant. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar and contains zero calories. It must be the answer to all of our problems right? My mum came to me with that exact same question when she was weighing up whether to switch over to the popular sweetener alternative and my response was simply, 'It sounds too good to be true.' And I believe it is.

Those who focus on weight loss and body fat percentages and food to burn more calories would worship this wonder sweetener, hailing it in all it's glory for allowing them to indulge without indulging. I, on the other hand, focus on nutrition, on worshiping (for better use of a word) our own bodies and fueling them with the most natural and least processed foods available. We are natural creations, we should eat natural foods.

So when I researched more about stevia I was less and less impressed by what it had to offer. Stevia- in it's pure form, may well be a wonder food, but the powdered white stuff we find on our supermarket shelves is a totally different story. First of all I was curious as to why it took so long to be approved as a product and what else they must be hiding from the typical consumer.

Then I found this statement from Dr Alan Barclay, of Diabetes Australia that answered my question to a T:
The powder "is a highly refined extract, blended with sugar alcohol and... bulked up with maltodextrin [a refined starch that breaks down into glucose]," he says. "To get it table-top sweet, it's bulked out with other carbohydrates which are calorific."

We do not eat the herb stevia (which genuinely does have zero calories) in it's pure form. Stevia is a lot less natural as lead to believe and unfortunately has taken the world by storm as the new wonder food.
 Of course make sure you do your own research on the matter if you choose to eat stevia/ steer clear of it, this is just my opinion and I always say that there is never an absolute answer for the perfect diet. My opinion is stevia needs a lot more research thrown into it to determine whether or not this powdered miracle is really just a powdered poison, until then, I'm steering clear and that is my opinion alone.

What about you?
Do you use stevia?
Do you prefer to use other sweeteners?
Ever feel like the 'next best thing!' isn't always the best thing?

That's it for today folks! I hope everyone has a great day! Bye! :D

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Thinking Out Loud! What food has taught me

I thought a lot about what I wanted to write about today.

I didn't have a recipe, or any pretty food pictures, so that was off the list. (There's only so many bowls of oatmeal I can show you before it becomes...plebeian- I wanted to find a more interesting word than boring;)
I didn't feel like writing a long post about something that requires a lot of research and is pretty factual (see here and here). I didn't feel like preaching, or jesting, or ranting.
So as I puzzled purposefully through this predicament (alliteration appreciation!) my mind wandered back to that one thing that brings me comfort, happiness and peace whenever I think about it. Food.
 I'm not just talking comfort foods that coat your mouth with greasy goodness or fill your belly with carby comfort (seriously my literary devices are on fire!) for me food is more than that.

Like music is an escape for some, food is my escape. Others may seek comfort in a favourite well worn book, or feel a sense of joy when they pick up a pencil and draw (I must say I can relate to all of these too) but the one thing on this planet that brings me the most joy and excitement and comfort, can be summed up in one word. Food.
Food has taught me that no one body is the same. Everyone needs different amounts, different types and different amounts of these types of food. From a young age I could relate my tired and bloated and most of the time sore belly to the food I was eating. As a kid my snack of choice was a big carrot to munch on, or a banana.
Food taught me that it can be produced and collected in two ways- right and wrong. It pushed me to stop eating meat because most supermarkets were selling the wrong kind- the kind that were stripped of any animal right, and packaged up nice and tight to hide the iniquity.
Food taught me that certain foods can make me feel great. Fresh fruit and veg, minimally processed grains, healthy fats, good protein sources. Food and I reunited once again into a loving relationship after failing me and leaving me fatigued and sick. Food gave me strength, healthy skin, energy, strong hair and nails, concentration and my internal, almost forgotten, sunshine.
Food taught me to listen to my body and to act upon it. To understand when I was eating the wrong things and when I was eating the right. Some foods gave me pain. Others gave me strength. I stuck to the stuff that made me stronger.
Food taught me that others might judge. How much, how often and what you're eating, people will question. Girl's will sneer and tease at the food that makes me feel good. People will drop their jaws in shock when I tell them what I choose to eat and what I don't. Questions will fly as to whether I'm getting enough protein/ iron/ vitamin B12.
Food gave me creativity, challenges purpose and a sense of pride. Never have I wanted achieve so much. Food kick started my determination to succeed and flourished my talents for others to see.
 Food consumed my unconscious, my waking mind, my habitual day dreams and spread warmth throughout my body. When times got tough I'd think of food. I'd create food. I'd bake and write and imagine future creations. Consequently my stresses and worries would be soothed away by the whir of my beaters, by the folding of my batter.
Above all else, food showed me what I am capable of. The things I create, the recipes I've devoured and challenged myself to produce, the blog that I write.

Food has given me a direction for my life and for that I am thankful. Good job food. You're awesome.

What about you?
Does food do the same thing for you? Does something else in your life?
Do you bake when you're stressed?
Craziest food creation you've ever made!

This is just me Thinking Out Loud! Be sure to head on over to Spoons to check out what everyone else is thinking about this awesome Thursday!

WIAW #45 Good Noms

It'ssssss Wednesday! You know what that means! A whole day of eats! A whole day of my eats! Who's super-duper excited?
I know it seems weird but I absolutely love writing these posts, it gives me a little document into what I've been eating each week. I can suss out changes and flick back for some meal inspiration. I also really love reading other peoples WIAW posts- because underneath all of our good intentions, we are all nosy plebeians. Yup.

So, with that awesome intro, let's get onto some eats, shall we?!?
Below is a typical Tuesday- a no-running day where I have time and effort to make my food. (Well, as much time and effort that school will allow)
Breakfast: 7:15am
Leisurely breakfasts are so amazing for me because if I want to fit in my runs somehow (they're getting pretty long, see) I've got to squish em' into my mornings (hello before-the-sun-rises wake-ups!) and then some how manage to eat breakfast whilst simultaneously running around the house with one shoe on and a hairbrush in my hand.

So yeh, Tuesdays are good.
 Also the sun made a spot just for my breakfast to be photographed with perfect light. Thanks sun! :)
 Tuesday's brekky was an old favourite of mine- a peanut butter and banana toastie. Simple, delicious and... did I mention delicious?
 As a side dish to absolutely perfectly complement the rich, coat-your-entire-mouth, sandwich I made some blueberry fro-yo:
 Which was simply a handful of frozen blueberries whazzed up in a mini food processor with a few big dollops of greek yoghurt:


Snack: 11:00am
After the first two periods of wonderful school (half serious, because I actually quite like school!) which involved some cooking (food science) and some literature (...literature) I enjoyed a nice little pot of peas. :)

*Imagination required*

Lunch: 1:40pm (because my school wants to starve us)
Pre-prepared lunch of delicious roasted veg (pumpkin, potato and parsnip) with lots of spinach and some chili tofu:
 How good are cold roasted veggies? I've said this many times before... but still! Nothing beats a cold roasted potato. Nothing. Maybe...

 So easy to whip up the night before and pop in a container to bring to school!

Snack: 4:00pm 
Snack-attack hit at 4 today after some delightful homework and prior to a flute lesson:

 A white-flesh nectarine with some raw mixed nuts and some soy milk. Yum!

 Deliciously sweet and crunchy nectarine, super yummy nuts and cold, refreshing soy milk. Perfect snack.

Dinner: 6:45pm
Flute lesson done! More homework done! Dinner- ready!! 
 This was a good one guys! Roasted sweet potato fries, roasted brussels sprouts, spinach tomatoes and Mexican chickpea patties.
 Happy Days.
 The veggie patties were so good that I'm going to make you wait and suffer for the recipe. Well, I'm actually going to go and do some more homework and write up the recipe when I have more time... but same outcome!!

What about you?
Do you sometimes have super-rushed mornings?
Cold roast veggies? Best thing ever, or not?
Favourite afternoon snack to keep you going?!?

That's it for what I ate Tuesday, to check out other people's eats head on over to Peas and Crayons!
Bye!! :D

Monday, 23 February 2015

A few ways with cacao powder!

Who here likes chocolate? Everyone? Good.
Who here doesn't like the fact that eating too much (especially low cacoa content) chocolate will make us unhealthy? Most people- right? Me included! If chocolate didn't contain masses of sugar and other unhealthy (sometimes even unpronounceable) ingredients I'd be bucketing it down like I do spinach... and sweet potato.... and nut butter :)
My name's Stephanie and I'm a chocoholic! There it's out there! Judge me if you will!
Ok, drama-ing it down.

So what's a girl to do when she needs her choccy fix?

I mean I could go out and buy some sugar free, (tastes like cardboard) full-of-artificial-stuff chocolate bars. Or some 100% cacao choc (I never walk down the chocolate aisle so I'm not sure if my super market even sells it). Or I could buy raw cacao powder.

Now guys- raw cacao powder is where it's at. It's on point. It has swag and sass and a bunch of other recently popularized words I don't entirely know the meaning of. It's good stuff.

Don't believe me? JUST WATCH! (shout out to Bruno Mars, in case you missed that)

First of all when I saw raw cacao powder I don't mean cocoa powder.
There's a difference.
I mean the good, un-processed (and uttelry delicious!) kind.
It can be a little tricky to use though, as it is quite bitter on it's own, but I have a few recipes that might just help you out (and let you enjoy that chocolatey goodness!)
You've seen this guy before- he is an old-time blog favourite of mine and has been around since the beginning (last January). It's the super-thick, super-chocolatey green monster!!
Not the prettiest of colours, but one of =my all time favourite smoothies- taste, filling-ness and chocolate power.
Into your blender goes 1 chopped frozen banana+ 1/2 chopped frozen avocado+ 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (optional- make sure it contains raw cacao ;) + 1 heaped teaspoon raw cacao powder+ 1 huge handful of kale/ spinach+ sprinkle of chia seeds + sprinkle raw oats+ 1/2 cup almond milk+ tablespoon nut butter+ 3 scoops greek yoghurt (optional)- whazz it up!
Z-OMG so good!
Banana- for sweet-ness and ice cream qualities, avocado for creaminess and healthy fats, raw cacao for chocolate!

So that one kinda looks a bit too healthy though... don't you think? How about something that looks almost as decadent as it tastes? (I say almost because this bad boy tastes... bad! In an extremely rich, delicious and fudgy kind of way)
Chocolate coconut steel cut oats with a side of kiwi fro-yo
1/3 cup steel cut oats + 1 cup almond milk+ 1/2 sliced banana+ 1 scoop choc protein powder + 1 heaped teaspoon raw cacao powder + sprinkle of chia seeds+ big few shakes of cinnamon+ 1 teaspoon coconut butter (extra for serving) +extra water if necessary
To make- place everything in a pot, stir to combine, then bubble away on low-medium heat for 15-20 mins and then sit for another 10 mins. Pour into bowl (or cup;) and top with extra coconut butter.
Guys, this was so rich and chocolatey that I couldn't finish the last bite! Can you believe it? Your challenge is to be able to!
Finally ice cream. Chocolate ice cream.
 I always remember as a kid that when it came to choosing ice cream my flavours of choice would be crazy rainbow bubblegum flavour or banana or cookies and cream. Always. My brother on the other hand always chose the richest deepest chocolatiest chocolate flavour and I would never look at it with envy. Chocolate just wasn't that high on my list of food loves. I remember tasting his ice cream and not really liking/ disliking it either way.
 That flavour got locked in my brain though and a few years later, the cravings for chocolatey chocolate ice cream like the ones my bro used to get hit hard.
 So into my high speed, super strong, mini food processor went 1/2 frozen avocado, 1/2 banana (preferably frozen but I just used an un-frozen one), 1 big teaspoon raw cacao powder and two spoons of greek yoghurt, whazzed up to produce a beautifully smooth, creamy and chocolatey ice cream. Place in freezer for 30 mins to harden it up a bit (if preferred) or just eat it like soft serve! Ahhh, so good!

Those are just a small sample of my favourite ways to incorporate chocolate into my diet. I would say I consume chocolate in the form of my raw cacao concoctions about 3-4 times per week and it's only 3-4 times and not 7+ times because I want to make sure I don't get sick of it. I still want chocolate to seem like a treat! :)

Your turn:
How do you eat your chocolate? Regular choc bar/ raw cacao powder/ cocoa powder/ hot choc/ protein powder/ baked goods etc.
Do you think chocolate for breakfast should become a thing? I do.
Ever tried chocolate avocado ice cream? No? Go make it now.

That's it for today folks, I hope everyone has a good one! Eat some chocolate! Bye!! :D

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