clean eating

Is Keto the New Black?

Keto-this & Keto-that is being bandied about like Lindsay Lohan’s antics circa 2006. So what’s the deal? Is this a legit way of eating? Should you try it? Should I try it? Who else is trying it? What does it do? What doesn’t it do? Will going keto solve all my life problems…. I’d say it’s unlikely but what it won’t solve could probably be remedied by coconut oil. Because magical.

I have read A LOT about ketosis and even dabbled in it myself. I found that it worked for me when incorporating some exogenous ketones via SUPPLEMENT into my life as that allowed me to not have to limit or caution around my veggie & fruit intake as my diet is generally pretty low carb anyway. What I do notice (in the absence of ketone supplements) when going too low carb (for me) is that my sleep gets a bit messed up, my energy wains in my workouts & I get some low thyroid type symptoms like really cold extremities so I have found that some starchy carbs with my dinner helps with that. I stopped taking any ketone supplements because whilst effective, I found the taste bloody awful and first & foremost I’m a foodie so it’s a no from me. They are sweetened with stevia and have the most incredibly sweet flavour that really put me off. Plenty of people swear by it though so give it a whirl if you like.

Anyway, I have had loads of people ask me about keto & so I asked my Yoda. He’s the guy I ask all things that I can’t seem to come to a solid answer to with my own research. Chris is one of the smartest people I have ever met & also one of the fittest. I’m hoping if I keep doing his PrimalThenics program his smarts & fitness will rub off on me too! So here’s his take on all things KETO.

Keto is certainly the new buzz word on the internet, being one of the most googled words in 2017.

The human body has two main fuel sources, glucose (from carbohydrates or excessive protein) or beta oxidation (ketones from the breakdown of fats).

Ketosis is the use of ketones from the breakdown of fats as your primary source of fuel and is often referred to as being ‘fat adapted’. For everyone who has not been on a ketogenic diet you operate on glucose as your main source of energy. To convert your body to using fat as your fuel source requires some specific work.

Let me explain what that requires and if it is right for you!

Changing your fuel source?

Think of your body as a car. Glucose is unleaded petrol and gets you roughly 500km a tank, whereas ketones are diesel petrol and get you 1000km a tank! To convert your car from unleaded petrol to diesel means you are going to have to take it to the car shop for a major overhaul of its engine. That work is going to take a few days and cost you a bit of money.

Bear with me.

When converting from glucose as your primary fuel source, (after a lifetime of eating carbs, potatoes, rice and breakfast cereals – remember the food pyramid anyone!), is going to cost you a bit of effort and discomfort. Things like the Keto-Flu, where you feel like you have the flu (people have been hospitalised before they thought they were so sick), fatigue, headaches and constipation can occur. Not to mention drastic reduction in athletic performance, initially anyway.

But you must remember, you are changing your engine here. You are changing your physiology, from that of carb dependant, to fat using. It requires a cost. 

How do you do this?

To convert to beta oxidation (ketosis) requires the absence of sugars and the limiting of total carbs to under about 20-50grams of carbohydrates a day. IN doing so, the body undergoes a few rough days of glucose depletion until it can start to get fats broken down in the liver which results in the body’s secondary fuel source, Ketones.

Can you speed this process up?

Yes, there are a few ways you can speed this up.

First. You can deplete your body’s stores of glucose faster than it takes for the body to utilise its’ own stores passively. To do this, you would partake of a few high intensity training sessions, such as sprint running, HIIT circuits or weight lifting. 

Two. Increase your fat intake, particularly the intake of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT oils) which are more easily converted to ketones in the body than other fats.  (Paleo hero mcts)

Three. Minimise lifestyle stressors such as sleep deprivation, stress etc, to provide the body with an easier opportunity to undergo a major physiological change. And, also, to make it easier on yourself!

Four. You can utilise exogenous ketones, as in pharmaceutically manufactured ketone bodies, to provide an immediate source of ketones which will aid in fighting off the effects of the ‘engine change’ (Keto flu), and almost trick your body into producing its own ketone bodies faster. 

Is this right for me?

Ketogenic dieting has long been regarded as particularly effective for a number of health ailments, including:

  • Epilepsy
  • Weight loss
  • Improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar stabilization

Recent claims have touted it as effective for:

  • Mood stabilization in mental/depressive disorders
  • Improved mental focus
  • Improved energy levels, oxygen capacity, endurance levels
  • Migraine treatment
  • Neuro-protective benefits in seizure disorders; ADHD; Alzheimer ’s disease, memory and cognitive function; Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Stroke prevention; cardiovascular disease; metabolic syndrome management; improved cholesterol levels
  • Inflammation management
  • Endurance enhancement

Whilst some are calling it one of the nutritional breakthroughs of our time!

What foods are involved?

Eating fat, and not eating carbs!

It is that simple, you eat fats, and you limit all intake of carbs: 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrates from leafy vegetables. Generally, this equates to about under 20grams of carbs consumed per day. It is also important to note that these carbs should be solely sourced from green leafy vegetables. Most people make some serious errors when beginning the diet by either consuming too much fat, the wrong kind of fat and or too much protein. Deep fried foods should be eliminated

Snack Options:

  • Go-to fat foods for snacking
  • Avocados
  • Cheese ( don’t go overboard)
  • Eggs
  • Dark chocolate (at night snack)
  • Fish
  • Nuts – macadamias, almonds, walnuts, pecans,
  • Chia seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil,
  • Flour – coconut, almond,
  • Butter, full fat cream,
  • Fatty meat- pork belly, bacon, beef, chicken thigh,
  • Celery and low sugar peanut butter
  • MCT oils
  • meats

As good as it may seem I don’t recommend super strict keto for everyone.

  1. It can be very hard to maintain
  2. It can be restrictive
  3. It can be done very badly
  4. If you are prone to severe anxiety
  5. It can influence your cholesterol levels (which in itself don’t mean anything, but if you do that with a lot of “falling off the wagon” and carb binging it can lead to negative side effects)
  6. It needs a very nuanced approach to manage salt intake, monitoring of bloods, health parameters etc
  7. It often has less vegetables than I would want you to eat
  8. Is it really necessary for you?
  9. What are your goals?

But, let me state this, you don’t need to eat carbs!

Yes, that’s right, even for weights training, HIIT training, endurance ultra-marathons carbs are not necessary. But I will leave that argument for another day.! But go as close to keto as you can whilst eating as many carbohydrates from my vegetables as you can.

If you are an everyday warrior like me, then I would recommend going for a more moderate approach, that still involves very limited number of carbs, that can better suit your life. Regardless of your performance goals or health aspirations, fat loss must be a priority. Having a lean muscular physique doesn’t mean having the body of cover model, but rather possessing appropriate fat stores and adequate physical capabilities.

Having increased body fat causes hormonal and immune system changes associated with fatigue, aches and pains, recurrent infections, allergies and toxicity, unbalanced hormone profile, and menstrual problems.

Medical research has repeatedly demonstrated the link between increased body fat and the progression of degenerative diseases like Cardio-Vascular Disease, diabetes and cancer. What is disregarded or poorly understood by most are the primary causative factors of excess fat storage. The two main causes being a sedentary lifestyle and excess refined carbohydrates.

Eliminating carbohydrates in a structured manner will change your life, because, losing fat will change your life. Not only will debilitating physical symptoms improve but you will also notice changes in daily energy levels and an improved zest for life!

Such positive physical and physiological changes will also affect you mentally and emotionally, for the better. One of the most noticeable aspects of fat loss and its effects on the body is the increased ‘ease of day’. ‘Ease of day’, refers to how much easier your daily activities will feel.

So, my advice to many is: Go for an approach that you can manage, that is appropriate for your life and goals and that has far less carbs than you currently consume.

Chris, The Health and Fitness Guy.

 

Corned Beef Fritters (paleo. gf. df)

I used to HATE corned beef as a kid. Detest it. I don’t even know why. I don’t think I have actually ever eaten it in my adult life until a few weeks ago when I tried it at a cafe as a brekkie wrap and it was awesome! So obviously now I’m obsessed and I went straight to the butcher and bought one. I’ve got be honest, I didn’t love how it initially turned out as the way they had brined it was WAAAAAYYYY too salty for my liking (and I love salt) so I’m going to get my mits on some silverside from Young Farmers and brine my own and just see how that pans out for me. Anyway, the point is, I wasn’t digging it but I HATE wasting food and I remember my mum used to make corned beef fritters so, that’s what happened. Fritters. The small human loved them. Smashed them both hot and cold. They make a cracking snack, brekkie or dinner option and they freeze like absolute champions. Obviously you can sub in other veggies if you want. This is what I had in the fridge.

1/2 red onion, diced
2 cups finely chopped cauliflower
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated sweet potato
2 cups diced corned beef
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups almond meal
Salt & pepper
Optional- 1/2-1 tsp turmeric
Coconut oil/ghee/ butter for cooking

Makes 12-15 fritters

Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl. Heat a large frying pan over low-med heat, add about 1/2 tbs of cooking fat. Form the batter into fritters, don’t worry if they don’t look like they are going to hold together, they will as they cook. Pop the fritters in the pan, cook on one side then flip, after flipping use the back of your spatula to press them down a little flatter. Cook on other side until browned.

 

Keto Love Bites (paleo. keto. vegan)

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock, you will have probably heard the term ‘keto’ being bandied about in health & fitness land. It’s the new black but it’s not a new concept. A Keto diet has been around for yonks and it’s been used therapeutically for treating obesity, epilepsy, diabetes, Alzheimers and many other conditions for a very long time. It’s basic premise is eating high fat &  very low carb kicking your body into ketosis where it will use your fat for fuel. Benefits  vary from person to person but  weight loss, blood sugar control, mental focus & clarity, and increased energy are generally seen. As EVERY body is different, the amount of carbohydrate you can tolerate before you are no longer in ketosis varies and it’s something that each individual needs to work out for themselves. Am I doing Keto? No. Do I generally eat a pretty high fat (healthy fats) and low-mod carb diet anyway? Yes. That feels good for me. Going super low carb (to be in ketosis) doesn’t feel great for me, I lack energy, my sleep suffers and my hormones go a bit wacky so, for me, making sure that I have a bit of fruit or some good starchy veggies as my carb sources works. Anyway, keto or not, these treats are a GREAT source of healthy fats and taste bloody tops. The fats will keep you satiated plus you feel like you are eating chocolate and that’s always a win in my book. Go forth and keto. Or don’t. You do you. 

3 tbs nut butter/coconut butter
1 tbs tahini

OPTIONAL- 3-4 drop peppermint or orange oil

1/4 cup coconut oil/butter/ghee/ cacao butter

1 tbs raw cacao
2 tbs collagen powder (or protein powder)

Melt together the nut butter, tahini & coconut oil, stir in everything else then spoon into chocolate moulds or pour into a baking paper lined tray. Pop it in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.

** If you don’t give 2 hoots about being keto-friendly and need some sweetness you can add 1-2 tbs of raw honey, pure maple syrup or rice malt syrup if you fancy.

 

The Truth About Acai Bowls

Acai bowls are the latest health food fad doing the rounds. They are popping up in every cafe & health food shop and you can even make them yourself at home (which I absolutely recommend so you can jam some extra nutrition in).  Touted by many as the perfect healthy meal they come in a massive variety of flavours and colours but let me let you in on a secret….. That ain’t no perfect brekkie.

OK, before a war breaks out let me firstly say, I like acai bowls. They are delicious. It’s like having ice cream for breakfast and who wouldn’t love to do that…. It’s got about the same amount of sugar as having ice cream for breakfast too. Yep, on average an acai bowl will have about 40g of sugar and up to about 75g depending on your toppings.  The same size bowl of full fat vanilla ice cream has about 39g of sugar. At least the ice cream has a good dose of fat in there too to at least help slow that insulin spike a little. Yes, the acai is natural sugar from fruit but as far as your body and your insulin response are concerned, it’s still sugar and if your body doesn’t need it, it’s likely going straight to your ar$e, or thighs, or stomach or wherever else your body thinks it would like to store it for the next famine you encounter. That’s basically an entire days recommended sugar intake in one bowl.

So what’s my point? My point is, don’t get caught up in the hype and the very clever marketing. If you give zero flying ducks (*side note; why does auto-correct think I want to write ‘ducks’? Seriously, how often do I refer to ducks to make it think that is a legitimate swap?) about your sugar intake, you are not trying to minimise your body fat, you don’t mind feeling hungry again an hour later, and you have $16 to drop on a bowl of sugar every morning, go your hardest, I’m not talking to you. If you do care about the above points I’d suggest that acai bowls are a sometimes food, a treat for your weekend brekkie out or a refuel after you have smashed out a gruelling workout, enjoy it for sure but don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s health food.

A few things I want to point out, not all acai is made equal. Homemade is absolutely the best because you can whack in a heap of great things to add way more nutrition. My tips would be cinnamon to help curb the insulin spike, collagen powder or protein powder to add some protein and help with skin, hair, joints etc, frozen zucchini or spinach to add some greens, use some coconut cream instead of coconut water to get some healthy fats in there- this will help keep you fuller for longer and assist with blood sugar regulation.

Different brands of acai also contain different things, it’s a good idea to ask. My pick is the Amazonia Pure . Some contain soy lethicin, some contain added sugar or syrups to make it more ‘scoopable’, some contain colours and additives to mask the fact that is has oxidised and gone brown instead of being the deep purple of a non-oxidised acai. So that’s it from me, eat your acai, or don’t, I have zero ducks to give, it’s your body to nourish how you see fit.

 

 

Roasted Cabbage & Kale Warm Salad (paleo. gf. df. vegan)

This recipe came about because I was making KIMCHI & I bought the world’s largest cabbage, not even exaggerating, and ended up with approximately 3.5kg of cabbage leftover. Steamed cabbage as a menu item does NOT spin my tyres in any way so I thought ‘let’s roast this gear and see what happens’. This happened and it’s a win I think. Cabbage is actually a cracking veggie if you can make it taste good. You can use purple/red cabbage too and give yourself an even bigger beta-carotene hit. Cabbage is low carb, high fibre and a good source of vitamin K, A & C.

1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
1 lge red onion, roughly sliced
1/2 bunch kale, shredded
3 small green apples, roughly sliced
Good pinch salt
Good lug of olive oil
OPTIONAL- If you tolerate dairy, some chunks of goats cheese would be a stellar topping to add for the last 15 mins in the oven.

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with some baking paper and add all the ingredients. Mix well with your hands so that everything has a good coating of olive oil. Bake for approx 1 hr. This can be served warm or cold.

Roasted Cauliflower & Green Tahini Dressing (paleo. vegan. gf. df)

If you haven’t roasted cauliflower before you are missing out. Seriously. Your life is lacking. It’s bloody tremendous just roasted with a bit of butter & turmeric but this jazz right here is next level. The green dressing packs a punch of both flavour and nutrition and both spinach and tahini are going to give you a cracking dose of calcium. I’d totally reccomend making this salad as a double batch so you have leftovers for the next day… or eat all of it at once. Whatever spins your tyres.

Dressing
1 packed cup baby spinach
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup tahini
Good pinch salt & pepper
1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
1 tbs raw honey/maple syrup

1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 tbs sumac
1/2 cup flaked almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and pop the cauliflower pieces on it. Sprinkle the cauliflower with the sumac and a good drizzle of olive oil then use your hands or whatever you like to mix it around to coat. Bake for 40mins or until golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Pop all the dressing ingredients into your food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Pop the cauliflower onto a serving platter, drizzle with the dressing then sprinkle with parsley & almonds.

Blow Your Mind Peanut Butter Slice (primal. gluten free. dairy free)

Is it wrong to eat a whole slab of PB slice in one go? Asking for a friend. Obviously.

I’m not going to lie to you, if you are trying to lay off the treats right now this recipe is NOT for you. This gear is good. I mean mind-blowingly good. You won’t just eat one piece. I’d be impressed if you could eat less than 5 squares in a sitting. If I can give you a hot tip, which I can because it’s my blog, hide the finished product from yourself in the freezer. Behind the liver. Oh, you don’t have liver in your freezer? You should. That stuff has superpowers. Anyway, hide it, or you’ll see it when you open the fridge. Every time. And you’ll eat some. Every time. Then it will be gone in 12hrs. So I hear. My ‘friend’ told me.

Base
1/2 cup almonds (or nut/seed of your choice)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
15 fresh dates, seeds removed

Blend in a food processor until it comes together like a dough. Remove and press into a baking-paper lined tray. Set aside.

Filling
1/2 cup natural coconut milk yoghurt (or full fat coconut cream)
1/2 cup 100% peanut butter (or other type of nut/seed butter)
1/4 cup collagen hydrolysate (optional but amazing for skin, hair, nails & gut health)
Pinch salt

Mix all ingredients together well then pour over the base. Pop it in the freezer while you make the topping.

Topping
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (you could use ghee, cacao butter or butter instead)
2 tbs raw cacao
1/4 cup rice malt syrup/honey/coconut nectar

Mix all ingredients until smooth, pour over the slice and pop back in the freezer for 2 hrs to set. Slice. Devour. Try to stop at one piece. That’s a dare.

pb-slice1

Stuffed Potatoes (paleo. vegan. gluten free. dairy free)

Stuffing stuff is awesome. There’s not much you can’t stuff. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, capsicum, eggplant, zucchini, those big-arse mushrooms that are almost the size of a plate. You get where I’m going. You don’t want to stuff potatoes? No drama. Stuff something else. Just get stuffed. The other great part of getting stuffed is that you can stuff it with whatever you like! Asian style, Mexican, Indian flavours or just a leftover mash-up of whatever’s in your fridge leftover from the week. Mine’s a leftover mash up but you do whatever spins your tyres and make them as fancy as you please. I think some leftover taco mince, homemade guacamole etc would be epic.

4 small sweet potatoes (or 1 or 10- depends how many you’re feeding)
Olive oil to drizzle
Whatever you want to stuff your stuff with. I used-
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red capsicum, diced
Big handful kale, shredded
Big handful red cabbage, shredded

Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a tray with baking paper. I don’t peel my sweet potatoes, I just wash them. Pop the sweet potatoes on the tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for about an hour or until soft to touch. It could take up to 90 mins depending on the size of your potatoes but just whack ’em in and go and binge watch some Suits until they are ready. You don’t watch Suits? Take a good, hard look at yourself and make better life choices.

Take all the stuff you are going to stuff them with and sauté it in a frying pan until it’s about 3/4 cooked then remove.

Take your cooked sweet potatoes, cut them down the centre and use a spoon to push the filling to each side so you have a nice little galley in the middle for all the good bits. Stuff them choc-full with all the stuffing bits. Now would be a cracking time to sprinkle some cheese on top if you can handle it or even a good drizzle of homemade mayo. Whack them back in the oven on about 200C for 15 mins then dig in!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

It’s been a while between blog posts and if I’m being honest, I feel like my kitchen mojo is a little flat right now. My creative cooking buzz is a little dull and I am feeling a bit ‘pulled all over the place’ with life in general. Sometimes that just happens right and instead of creating and blogging when Baby G goes to bed, I binge watch Banshee. Because avoidance is my strategy of choice right now. As the weather warms up though I am sure I will get inspired again and we’ll be hanging out here a lot more together. In the meantime. Chocolate & Peanut Butter.

Chocolate & peanut butter, it’s a marriage made in heaven and who doesn’t love a good tart?! I know you do. You could make this as mini-tarts using cupcake moulds if you fancied. I don’t fancy because that seems like a whole lot more effort than I can be bothered with but if mini-tarts are your thang, go hard.

250g raw cashews, soaked in a bowl of water for 2-4hrs
2 ripe bananas
4 tbs coconut oil
1/4 cup natural organic  peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
1/4 cup raw cacao
1/4-1/2 cup pure maple syrup/ rice malt syrup depending on your sweet preference

2 cups raw almonds

2 cups fresh pitted dates

Preheat your oven to 170C. Line or grease the bottom and sides of a spring form or tart tin.

Pulse the almonds & dates in the food processor until The come together like a rough dough. Press evenly into the base and sides of the tin and bake for about 15mins until just starting to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

While the base is cooling, add the drained cashews and banana to the food processor and blend until completely smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times. Add the remaining ingredients (start with the minimal amount of maple syrup) and blend to combine. Taste and add extra sweetener if required. Pour into the cooled tart base and refrigerate for at least 4 hrs, overnight is best. Cut it. Serve it. Eat it.

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Balsamic Pork Ribs with Cabbage & Apple

I’m not that into pork. Well except for bacon. Ok, and ham off the bone. Oh yeah, I love baby back ribs as well. Did I mention pork belly. How good is pork belly!  Soooo maybe I don’t mind a bit of pig in my life, I was mistaken. These are easy and delicious and the “cabbagey” (that’s definitely NOT a word) apple goodness underneath is awesome! You are going to LOVE it. If you want your ribs to really crackle up on top you might want to score them before you cook them, rub a bit of salt on them and then whack them under the grill for 10 mins after they are cooked.

salt & pepper to taste

1 tbs honey

1 tbs smoked paprika

1 tbs olive oil

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1/4 red cabbage, shredded

1 lge green apple, cut into large cubes

3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

4 pork spare ribs

Preheat your oven to 160C. In a bowl mix the oil, paprika, honey, balsamic, garlic, salt & pepper. Add the ribs and mix well to coat then set aside. In a baking dish add the cabbage and apple, pop the ribs on top and drizzle over remaining marinade. Cover with foil and bake for 2hrs. Remove foil and increase temperature to 220C for 20 mins. Remove from oven and serve.

porkribs2