Thursday, 27 August 2015

S-U-G-A-R

Sugar.

Carbohydrate, fructose, dextrose, candy, sweet, sucrose, sweetener, lactose....

Whatever you want to call it/ label it/ do with it, it's the same thing. Sugar.

And we love it.

Now this isn't a scientific post with all the nutritional information and fancy smancy information containing all of the 20 letter words associated with the chemistry of food and there will definitely be none of these; C12H22O11.

Nope instead I just want to have a chat about it, my own experience and the awesome documentary that brought all of these thoughts into my head to begin with!

 

Here's a brief synopsis of the recently published documentary created, directed and starring Damon Gameau:

THAT SUGAR FILM is one man’s journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. THAT SUGAR FILM will forever change the way you think about ‘healthy’ food.

I thought this was such an interesting way to explore the impacts sugar has on us, as Damon doesn't go on a diet filled with lollies, soft drink, chocolate etc. rather simply eats a typical, even considered 'healthy' diet.

 He filled his pantry and fridge with items like low-fat fruit flavoured yoghurt, cereals, juice boxes, muesli-bars and pre-made sauces and simply had to make sure he reached the average daily intake of sugar, the westernised world consumes (40 TEASPOONS!!).

Obviously upon learning that a serving of some fruit yoghurt with cereal on top and a glass of juice for breakfast made up around 1/3-1/2 of the 40 teaspoons, it became clear that he would have no trouble reaching this goal.

 Again, none of the foods he was consuming were labelled as 'junk food' or 'bad', he was simply eating what the majority of us buy from the super markets. 

 What's more, he had gone sugar free for multiple years prior to this. Boy did his body get a shock.

 But enough about that documentary (though you should definitely give it a watch!) let's move onto the message of the whole documentary, how we as humans fit into all this.

 Hundreds of years ago humans had to hunt and gather for their own food (shocking, I know) and sometimes food wouldn't come by for long periods of time. As a result we developed a sensitivity to the sweet stuff and immediately our brain would light up and awaken at the sweet taste on our tongues, telling our bodies that we had a quick source of fuel and energy and we should eat as much as we can to restore the energy we had lost.

 Not much has changed to this day, which is why our brains seem to wake up more when we have sugary foods and we find it hard to control the amount we eat (and why we are always hungry for more).

 Of course, we've all read those posts, or seen those news articles outlining the damaging effects of sugar on the body (weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, liver problems etcs.) but how do you stop yourself from consuming something you actually crave

 

If you have read my blog for a while, you may have come across the fact that I don't eat highly sugary foods (like lollies, soft drink, juice, processed cereals, ice cream, chocolate bars etc.) and if you're anything like every single one of my friends/ peers, your first question may be; 'How could you live without sugar?'

Prior to my diet change (into vegetarianism with low dairy, wheat and sugar consumption) I'd seen friends, family members and  even people on tv trying and ultimately failing at giving up the extra sweets. I saw them become cranky, irritable, showing real withdrawal symptoms from something as 'harmless' as sugar. I saw that they couldn't sustain slapping their hand away from the biscuit tin, or huddled in the corner of a dark room rocking back and forth murmuring to themselves to not give in to the demons. (Ok, the second example may have been slightly exaggerated. Slightly. ;))

 So when I was told that I should probably cut back on all processed and added sugars, I thought it would be impossible. But it wasn't. Hear me out:

 The first few days were fine. You know, you have that new and exciting feeling and that mental drive to make sure you do everything 100% perfect. Then it became a week and the novelty started to wear off. By week 2, I will admit there were times where I would watch my family eat some cake, or have some ice cream and I would literally drool at the sight.

Then came 30 days.

 Yep, for some reason 30 days was the magic number for me (and they say around a month is needed to stick a habit). After a month I simply didn't crave it. I was used to how things tasted on their own without the sickly sweet addition of sugar. I began to appreciate the real flavours of food and then notice the subtle sweetness in them.

Apples were bursting with sweet, crisp crunch, sweet potatoes used sweet syrup and even plain oats took on a sweetness I had never noticed before. I think after that month I was given a juice of some kind at a restaurant and the taste was so sweet I could not even finish it. I had trained my taste buds to appreciate the 'hidden' sweet flavours of nature that I had smothered by my intake of sugary processed foods.

 So to all of you out there who think you can and will never shake your sweet tooth problem (if it truly is a problem; ie. your over consuming and feeling the negatives- remember we are allowed to treat ourselves!) give it a month and then see where your at. I think you just might find that that vanilla frosted cupcake will become a little too sweet for your liking.


Your turn:
Do you have a sweet tooth? I definitely believe I do and make sure I satisfy it with delicious fruit and sweet potatoes of course!
Have you struggled to cut sugar from your diet in the past?
Favourite naturally sweet food?

 This is just me Thinking Out Loud- head on over to Spoons to see what everyone else is thinking about this Thursday!

 

 Have a fabulous day friends, tell someone you love them (it may just brighten their day) and as always- eat something delicious! Bye!! :D 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

WIAW #71 Athletics day eats!

Hidy-ho folks.
I hope you're all having a fabulous week so far- we're halfway through!!- and are ready for some FOOOD! Why? Because on Wednesday’s we drool over everyone else’s eats in the hope of gaining inspiration, ideas and possibly (and more accurately), a reason to scroll mindlessly through pictures of food.
Not that I really need a reason. It’s my favourite past-time.

Alrighty, now that I’ve creeped everyone out, let’s move on to this week’s WIAW. Thanks as always to Peas and Crayons for creating this awesome link-up!


This specific day of eats is from Monday, the day of my school’s sports carnival (and yes, I was running in a few events!)

Breakfast: 7:20am
To fuel me through the day I decided to have a hearty breakfast of a super big green smoothie with all the fix-ins:

Frozen banana, frozen zucchini, frozen avocado, soaked rolled oats (1/3 cup rolled oats + teaspoon chia seeds, soaked in ½ cup almond milk for 10-15mins), peanut butter, vanilla protein powder, spinach and water- all whizzed up until smooth, creamy and delicious!

This combo guys- you need to try this combo- it's like cake batter in a jar!


Snack: 11:30am
As the day was a little disjointed with ‘scheduled eating times’ (typical to a regular day at school) I had my snack at around 11:30am (after my long jump and 800m run) which was a nice pot of peas and corn:

Lunch: 1:40 ish?
Again with the disjointed times and not wanting to compete on a full stomach, I waited until after my 100m sprint (I CANNOT sprint to save my life and as a result came 2nd…. Last J ) and 400m sprint? Yeh, let’s call it a sprint, I positively inhaled my lunch. Probably around 1:40 pm ish.
A huge container of spelt pasta, steamed veg (pumpkin, parsnip, swede, purple carrot) spinach, chickpeas, nutritional yeast and no-added-salt tomato paste.
Yes, it is as big as it looks. Yes I ate the whole thing par a couple pieces of steamed swede as I was reminded I’m not actually too fond of steamed swede (much prefer it roasted!)

My last event was about an hour later- a 4 X 100m relay (yep another sprint, which I didn’t do too well at (You may/may not be surprised to learn that I made the team… for the 1500m and 800m only J ) and then it was home time. More importantly- food time! I was in need of some food!

Snack: 4:00pm
Enter my afternoon ‘fruit and milk’ snack of a sliced fuji apple, black grapes (so good!) and a mug of soy milk.

Dinner: 6:45pm
I felt kinda funny and sort of sick for the remainder of the day (I was quite sunburnt and probably a little low on water) so when dinner rolled round I didn’t really feel like anything. Enter what I managed to throw together:
A baked sweet potato with coconut butter and cinnamon and a side of steamed Brussels. Coz why not?

I sort of got some appetite back and had a small handful of nuts. Then I was done. Physically, mentally, sunburnt-ly done! I collapsed on the couch, watch some telly and then BED!
So that’s what I ate!!

Tell me:
Are you a sprinter or a long distance runner? I used to be a sprinter… now I’m most definitely not!
Favourite lunch to fuel a busy/ tiring day?
Ever just feel like a baked sweet potato with coconut butter/ nut butter and that’s it? This happens a little too often with me!


I hope you all have a great day, do something you love to do and of course eat something delicious! Bye for now friends!! :D

Monday, 24 August 2015

Pumpkin Pesto!

What happens when you combine pumpkin with pesto?

Well... you get pumpkin pesto...

BUT! You also get something that's out-of-this-world delicious, full of all the yumminess of pesto and pumpkin and sneakily filling (did I mention it is ridiculously good?)

I don't know where I first got the idea for pumpkin pesto (I most likely saw it on Food Gawker/ Tasty Query/ Pinterest/ one of the many food sites I frequent often) But I am mighty happy that I did see it and as a result re-create it!

 I was going about making my lunch one night last week (night before prep is so good for rushed mornings!!) and I steamed up some pumpkin...
Whazzed up some pesto...
Added the steamed pumpkin to the pesto...
And voila! Pumpkin pesto!!
Well, that's great stuff, now you have a pot of pumpkin pesto for lunch.

Ha ha, no, I then went about cooking up some quinoa and char-grilling some capsicum, eggplant, zucchini and mushroom:
 And mixing it all together!

 It may not look like the most appetizing thing in the world, but boy did it taste goooood!

So next time you're whipping up a batch of pesto to lovingly coat your al dente pasta, or swirl over your beautiful flavoursome pizza, try adding in a bit of pumpkin for added sweetness, awesome taste and some extra nutrients too!! WIN-WIN-WIN!

Your turn:
Do you like pesto? I remember when I first tried it at a pizza parlour and absolutely hated it. Something must have changed since then!
Do you add anything different to your pesto? I think next time I'd like to make a char-grilled capsicum pesto. Mmmm
Pesto + -------- is the best combo? For me it's always been pizza, but pasta is a close second!

 Well, that's it from me today folks (it's been a very pesto-y kind of week already! Can you tell I've embarked on a new obsession (well, old obsession), I hope you all have a great day, do something that makes you happy and eat something delicious (which probably makes you happy too!). Bye friends!! :D




Sunday, 23 August 2015

A different kind of grilled cheese...

Hello friendly friends!

The other day I was mindlessly scrolling through food websites (as a dedicated food lover does) and suddenly my focus zoomed in on this miraculous piece of food creation that immediately made my eyes light up and my mouth water.

I could just taste the delightful flavours, the awesome mouth feel, the crunch, the soft, the warm, the gooey.

Any guesses?

How about a picture of said ----
Yep, that my friends is a grilled cheese and pesto sandwich!

Of course I knew I was going to re-create this. And soon.

I also knew there would be a few little tweaks to make it more Steph-tummy friendly and yet just as delicious...

And here it is:

I started off making up a batch of my delicious basil pesto (with all the good stuff; pine nuts, nutritional yeast, basil, extra virgin olive oil, a splash of water, some spinach and lemon juice)
and dolloping some onto a piece of dark, wholemeal, grainy bread.
I also whipped up some equally delicious vegan cheese:
Made with 1 heaped tablespoon of hommus + 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast + 2 tablespoons water, mixed together and then microwaved for 30 seconds to thicken up (stirred again until smooth).
Topping off the pesto with some 'cheeeeese':
Followed by another slice of bread and then into the toasted sandwich press!!
Oh yes!
The combination of the delicious basil-y pesto with the cheesy hommus on the toasted, warm, crunchy bread... it was definitely a winner.

Just check out that 'cheese' action:
This sandwich was pretty much devoured the minute after I had finished taking photos. Like, DEVOURED!

To ensure the bread remained crisp and crunchy, not soggy, of course! That was my only reason... ;)
The leftover pesto went to good use too:
Might as well make everything taste epic if you're using pesto!

And boy, how awesome it did taste indeed!
So next time you're stuck for ideas about what to put between your slices of bread, give this awesome combo a try, I promise it will not disappoint! (In fact it will leave you with ridiculous cravings for another one as you type up a post about this beautiful sandwich... from personal experience).

Your turn:
What's your favourite combo with cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich? Because I don't generally eat cheese all that often any more I generally like my grilled sandwiches with a veggie patty and tomato. As a kid my favourite grilled cheese was made with baked beans- so good!
Have you ever had a pesto and grilled cheese sandwich? I think it's one of my new favourites!
Favourite use for pesto? Pizza, no debate. Oooh, except for pasta- pesto is sooo good with pasta. Okay I'll stop ;).

I hope you all have a fabulous day, take some time to appreciate all the awesome things in your life, and as always, eat something delicious!! Bye friends! :D

Saturday, 22 August 2015

All these lovely links

Happy Sunday Friendly friends!!

I hope you're all have a lovely and relaxing day (I will be... after work... ahh the joys of being a teenager with a part-time job. Weekends= work time!) and while you're relaxing, grab a cup of tea/ coffee and have a flick through some of the links I loved from last week (accidental alliteration at its finest ;)

Onto the links!!

Food:
. flourless double chocolate cherry brownies .

Healthy No Bake Blueberry White Chocolate Snack Bars



Good Reads:

WIAW: why you’re not getting your period


Why you must choose happiness

Fitness:



Funny:

Let’s Settle This Once And For All: How Do You Pronounce “Plantain”?

I hope you found some interesting reads in that assortment of links and hopefully feel inspired/ happy/ informed/ hungry (I know, those recipes got me drooling too!).

Have yourself a wonderful day and just take a moment to smile. :) Bye for now friends!! :D

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Ignoring Hunger- The Consequences

I think I've mentioned it once or twice before in a few previous posts.

Ok, I've mentioned it in practically all of my past posts from like the last week.

If you have somehow miraculously evaded my constant ramblings over the state of my hunger and how it has turned me into an eating machine, then you are now up to date on the state of my hunger and how it has turned me into an eating machine.
Just an everyday Steph kinda lunch :)

This current trending topic in my life has sparked some major thought-provoking thoughts surrounding all things hunger; hunger signals, eating times, foods etc., as I found myself questioning why I was hungry, how I could still need a snack after that massive dinner, why I couldn't concentrate on anything merely an hour after lunch (it's a good thing I only have year 11 school to think about...)

 Trying to fix this problem with the biggest mug of chocolate oats and nut butter. EVER!
 I actually felt kinda sick after this! But I was full for hours!! :)

Primarily, it sparked the topical 'healthy eating/living' debate over whether to eat when/ what you want to satisfy your body.

I know in the past I have been one to struggle with listening to my hunger cues. If it wasn't 12-12:30 I was NOT going to eat lunch. Afternoon snack could NOT be eaten before 4:00pm and dinner was set in the 15 minute window between 6:30-6:45pm. Rigid, huh.

If I was starving at 2:00pm- tough luck, that's another 2 hours before your next feed Steph! Eaten all of my lunch and still famished? Well, that's too bad because that's all the food you should eat.

Luckily, that depriving stage of my life has passed and I moved on to satisfying my bodies wants and needs. There was an article I read somewhere that kind of initiated this way of living that said;

'If your body told you it was thirsty would you just ignore the signal? No, you would likely get yourself a drink of water.'
ALL the food
And I was like, yeh, I would. *slowly nodding with wide eyes as I had a sudden flash of insight on life. Or something like that. ;)

The paragraph ended with:

'Then why would you ignore your hunger cues?'
ALL gone :)

From my own experience, reading other bloggers experiences and info I've come across, there are so many reasons why ignoring your hunger cues is just plain detrimental to life, and not just the weight aspect!

Firstly hunger leads to binging and other disordered eating habits.

I know that if I have a measly little lunch or have no lunch whatsoever, my dinner will make up for it and then some! Whatever meal/ food I encounter next will be a BIG one! So why, if my body is yelling at me for food and is still yelling at me for food after I have fed it, do I try and ignore it? It's only going to lead to me eating everything in sight later on and then dealing with an uncomfortable food baby to look after.

Hunger also negatively affects your metabolism.

So if you're thinking you're doing the smart thing to lose weight by ignoring your helpful hunger cues, think again! If you're body's in a constant state of hunger, it's going to want to conserve as much energy as possible (by storing it as fat, and not using it as fuel) to keep you functioning and... A.L.I.V.E. So when you do end up feeding your body after ignoring those loud grumblings all morning, that food is not going anywhere!

Hunger is NOT a sustainable feeling to tolerate.

Just re-read that last point, because it is SO TRUE! I don't know about you but I find it nearly unbearable to be hungry for long. If you are constantly paying attention to your stomach (and how empty it feels) than you are probably exhausting yourself both physically and emotionally. And that's a losing battle.

Most importantly- Hunger means you need something.

Your body's a smart apparatus. It does amazing things to ensure you thrive and yet we work so hard to ensure we don't? Hunger is completely natural and we fear it.As much as pain, thirst, happiness and anger all serve purposes- so too does hunger!! Hunger is there to tell us we are lacking in something, be it calories or nutrients... it needs something, so answer that cry for sustenance- ANSWER IT!!
Veggie packed rice and quinoa spaghetti, steamed pumpkin, parsnip, beetroot, swede, brussels, broc and a cheesy tahini and nutritional yeast sauce- ohhh yes!

Your body is amazing and will send you signals when it is both hungry and when it is satiated, so let's pay attention to these signals and enter into the natural state that our body wants us to be at. Our body knows best (it's pretty much like a parent... but smarter ;).

Your turn:
Have you ever/ do you sometimes ignore your hunger cues?

This is just me Thinking out loud, be sure to head over to Spoons to see what everyone else is thinking about today!

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