gluten-free

Food, Fitness, f45 & a Whole Lotta Ab’s!

 About a month ago I met the awesome Nina Studenko. Super-mum, all round amazing woman & owner of f45 Stafford & Newstead and was lucky enough to be asked to be an ambassador for them. Whoop Whoop!
I had heard a LOT about this f45 craze and because I was doing a heap, ok a bit, alright maybe once a week, of HIIT training at home anyway I thought I’d give it a crack. I’ll be fine…. Ah no. Not fine. Not even slightly fine. Dying. Death. I am literally drowning in my own sweat. Aaaaannnd of course then I became addicted because not only does it appear that I love pain, I also love results & fun and this team bring it in spades. PLUS, I figure if I keep going I am going to wake up with ab’s like Nina….. Hopefully by tomorrow. That’s how it works right? RIGHT?
So here’s the lady behind the ab’s to tell you all about her food, her life & how the hell she got that body. I’ll have what she’s having!

1. Tell us about Nina in a nutshell-

Happy, fun, determined, caring and an observer.

2. You are built like a real athlete, I mean seriously, those ab’s!  What is your fitness background?

Thank you! Fitness background is a bit of everything. I LOVE variety. It’s important for me to continually shock my body that activate and wake up different muscle groups – for me this is the key to my definition and symmetry.
Currently I train 5-6 times a week with a focus on F45 training and throw in a little bit of gymnastics, crossfit, running and yoga into the mix.

I competed in Body Sculpting last year in the Figure division so traditional weight training played a massive part in my training to achieve the required physique.

Over the past few years I have kept things exciting with Crossfit, Triathlons, lots of running up to the half marathon length. I absolutely love the conditioning side of Crossfit which is why F45 is so appealing to me. I find I respond really well to HIIT training and in the last year my body has physically gone through so much change.

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3. What’s a day in the life of an F45 owner look like?

  • Alarm goes off at 4:15am
  • Out the door at 4:30am
  • Coaching 5:15am-8:30am
  • Training 9:30am
  • Admin 10:30am-12pm
  • Coach lunch time sesh 12:30pm
  • Admin until 3:30pm
  • Mummy duties from 4pm
  • In bed by 10pm

4. Why f45 & why do you do what you do?

From the moment I tried F45 training for myself, I fell in love! F45 stands for Functional 45 (minute sessions).  The style is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and this training style is right up my alley. It is fast, furious, tough, intense and gets results!

The results I have seen over the past year amongst members is nothing short of amazing.  The variety keeps our members guessing and my favourite part is the fact that the body is continually shocked because sessions are not repeated.  I love that there is a focus on both cardio and resistance – so many people focus on either one or the other in their usual routines whereas the importance of both is showcased with the programming.

F45 is innovative and HQ are continually changing things up to stay ahead of the game and remain the leaders in HIIT training worldwide.

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5. Talk us through a day on your plate?

After competing last year I got into the habit of eating a lot of white meat and fish and a ton of leafy greens and veggies.  My diet since then has remained very similar, although I obviously allow myself treats now.  Essentially though I exclude gluten and minimise grains as my body doesn’t respond well to these.

Breakfast:  Chicken or salmon and green veggies + avo (zucchini, beans)

Lunch:  Turkey with green veggies (zucchini, beans) + sweet potato.  If I am eating out during the week I will usually go for a nutritious meal or healthy salad from somewhere local.

Dinner:  White fish, steak with green salad and veggies

Snacks:  Protein drink, coffee, protein bar

Weakness:  Coffee (i drink too much!)

6. What is your nutrition philosophy?

Eat the foods that benefit your body – do what works for you and makes you feel your best and allows your body to perform at its best.

For me, it is high protein, low carb.  I feel my best when I eat healthy meals that are unprocessed.  I feel that sugar can easily become something my body relies on and craves, so I try to limit this where possible.

7. What is the best piece of nutrition advice you could give?

Very similar to the above – Your diet should include things that allow your body and mind to perform at its best.

I also place huge importance on balance – so eating healthy most of the time, but allowing yourself a treat. I am a clean eater, but I also allow myself things that I enjoy that are not necessarily apart of my meal plan.  I like cheese and I like wine and I like chocolate.  I also grew up eating delicious Spanish and Russian dishes so whenever we have a family get togethers I cut loose.  This is how I treat myself.

I think it needs to be noted that everyone is different and I will always consider my members and their lifestyle, work schedules etc. when advising about diet and nutrition.  I don’t follow or suggest my members follow a specific diet, because I believe it is important to eat wholesome foods that haven’t been altered or processed.  As a general comment though, I really believe that we all need to take time out to listen and learn how to read our bodies, how it’s feeling and then educate ourselves on what this means.

8. What’s your fave food?

My grandmothers silverbeet, smoked ham and egg pie.

9. My perfect relaxing weekend would be….

Spent somewhere by the beach – we are so spoilt for choice in QLD, so up or down is fine.  Get a work out in at the local F45 studio or go for a run, get some breaky + cawfeeee, head to the beach for some vitamin SEA, head to the local shops to trawl through the shops, lunch, more beach time.

10. My favourite things are…

My son Alastair and my family, my friends, and girlfriend catchups and of course my business. Work is not work anymore and this is such a gift.

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11. My go to meal when I just CBF (Can’t Be Fu$ked)….

Nandos chicken tenderloins or Guzman y Gomez Chicken salad!

So now you know all about Nina and you should definitely go and give this f45 bizzo a whirl and sign yourself up to their FREE 14 DAY TRIAL. See you there!!

Crockpot Pulled Pork (paleo. gluten free. dairy free)

Best. Pulled pork. Ever. I’m not sure if that is a completely correct statement but for the amount of time it takes to prepare versus your return on investment in that process it really comes up trumps. You can probably give this a whirl with beef, lamb or chicken thighs too if that’s what spins your tyres. This freezes really well if you have leftovers and is a great versatile protein source that you can toss through a salad, pop in a wrap, have with veggies, served for brekkie with some poached eggs, just eat it straight out of the slow cooker…. I won’t judge, people do it….. I’ve heard.

250g tomato paste

400g tinned chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup coconut aminos/ tamari/soy sauce

2 tbs sweet paprika (smoked is fine too)

1/2 tbs garlic powder

1/2 tbs onion powder

1/2 cup honey

good whack of salt & pepper

1 cup filtered water/chicken or veggie stock

1 boneless pork leg or shoulder

Add all the ingredients except the pork to the slow cooker and mix well to combine. Take the pork & trim any excess fat. A bit is fine but too much will just turn to slop so chop it off, whack it in the oven and make some pork cracking! Roll the pork around in the slow cooker mix to coat then pop it on low and let it go for 8-10 hours.  I put mine in before I went to bed and woke up with my dinner ready to go…. Once its done just use a couple of forks to shred it all up then dig in. I served mine in some lettuce boats topped with guacamole & kraut.

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Caramel Protein Bars (paleo, vegan)

You’ll never guess the secret ingredient in these bars….. Seriously, it’s weird, even for me. It’s a sneaky veggie. Cauliflower. Yep, I’m serious. Told you it was weird. Weird, but strangely delicious and quite frankly I am LOVING the fact that this has veggies in it so hard right now. I mean it’s basically a salad now. Right? Pass me that tray of salad.

300g steamed & cooled cauliflower

200g raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hrs then drained

200g medjool datess

Dark chocolate (for dipping)- I used Lindt 90% but you can use this recipe to make your own if you prefer

2 tbs mesquite powder (optional but delicious)

2 tbs tahini

2 tbs rice malt syrup/maple syrup/honey/coconut nectar

1/2 cup Only Nutrition Vanilla Protein (or protein of your choice)

Add the dates, cashews & cauliflower to a food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients except the dark chocolate and process again until it forms a dough. If it’s still a bit wet, add an extra 1/4 cup protein at a time until you get to a ‘bliss ball’ type consistency. Press into a baking paper lined tray and pop in the freezer to set for 1-2 hrs. Once the slice has set you can melt your chocolate and pop it in a bowl for dipping. Cut the slice into bars, dip in the chocolate and place back into the freezer to reset. If you have leftover chocolate, you can do a second dip because let’s face it, one layer of chocolate is never sufficient. If you can’t be bothered with the dipping bizzo you can just pour the melted chocolate on top before you slice it into bars. I store these in the freezer to maintain a good consistency….. and to hide them from myself.

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Mango Coconut Protein Ice Creams (paleo, primal, gluten free, dairy free, vegan)

Um it’s been eleventy-ten million degrees in Brisbane this week. 4000% humidity, 0% oxygen. Not. Even. Kidding.  Ice creams is pretty much all I have wanted to eat and luckily these bad boys are super easy & very versatile and will cool you down asap. The biggest problem is thinking ahead to make them but if you just go ahead and make them now you’ll be good to go. 

Feel free to go rogue and choose your own adventure with flavours here. I’m think banana & almond butter would be MIND BLOWING but you can substitute in any fruits and veggies you like. 

Layer 1

2 cups coconut cream
1/2 tsp vanilla powder or extract
1 tsp honey/rice malt/maple syrup (optional)

Layer 2

350g mango
3/4 cup coconut cream
1 scoop ONLY NUTRITION VANILLA PROTEIN (optional)
1/2 cup shredded coconut

You will need some ice block moulds or some sort of vessel you can whack a paddle pop stick in to make it an ice block. Use your creative genius and let me know what you come up with.

Mix the ingredients for layer one together well & half fill your ice block moulds then pop this straight in the freezer to start to set while you make the next layer.

For Layer 2, add all the ingredients to your food processor or high speed blender and blitz until smooth. Pour on top of layer 1, whack the Popsicle stick in and let the freezer work its magic. That’s it. 

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Herb Crusted Cutlets

Heeeeyyyy!!! Happy New Year everyone. So I’m sorry it’s been a while between recipes, to be honest I think I just needed a bit of time to get my kitchen mojo back after a pretty wild last half of the year. Anyway, I’m back. You’re back. Let’s do this. 

Now, let’s talk. How good is lamb. Seriously. That’s a statement, not a question. You know lamb is the delicious little morsel that broke the 15 year vegetarian in me? Yep, 8 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder was the beginning of my soirée back to eating red meat. The smell of that deliciousness in the oven at a friend’s place had my vego stomach doing backflips and high kicks wanting to get on board. So get on board I did, I started listening to my body again and it’s been thanking me ever since. It’s what I needed. That’s not to say it’s what you need….. Except for these cutlets. Everyone needs these cutlets. 

1 tbs seeded mustard

2 tbs fresh chopped mint

2 tbs fresh chopped rosemary

Salt & pepper- a good whack

2 tbs melted coconut oil

10 lamb cutlets

Add all the ingredients except the cutlets to a bowl and mix well to combine. Spoon onto the cutlets to form an even crust on one side and set aside. The coconut oil should set a bit on the cold cutlets to help it all stay put. Heat a large frypan to med heat then place the lamb, crust-side down, onto the pan. now you can spoon some extra crust onto the other side. Cook for about 3-4 minutes before flipping over gently using a spatula to keep the crust intact.  Cook for another 3-4 mins on the other side before removing from the pan.

That’s it. Done. Eat. Enjoy.

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Gasp!? OMG how dare I feed my child REAL FOOD???!!

So I was approached by a big blog called Kidspot to talk about Paleo, then The Daily Mail. Well what a goddamn scandal. Who knew that NOT eating processed cr@p every day would upset so many people!? Well, actually, I did because people get upset at things that challenge what they think they know and things that might make them question their own choices.  People also become VERY brave on the other side of their computer screen…. Even when they haven’t even bothered to READ the article in question. As Ms Swift aptly sings,”And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate”.

How dare I deprive my child of what is basically kindergarden grade glue (flour & water…. Also known as bread) as a staple in her diet in place of whole foods!! Man, I’m a jerk. Grace might end up with ‘gluten-deficiency’….. Oh hold on, there’s no such thing. Now don’t get me wrong, what they left out of the article (OF COURSE) is that I am not going to have a melt-down if my kid shoves some bread down her gullet at some point, or eats a piece of cake at a kids party. If Grace  (and I) eat things on occasion that are less-than-ideal, so be it but those things will not be making up the majority of our diet. Do I think a bowl of pasta is going to cause her or I major health problems? Hell no, BUT, what I do think, is that if she’s chowing down on on a big bowl of pasta, she’s not chowing down on a big bowl of veggies and they win in the nutritional stakes. Every. Single. Time.

There’s a few things I’d like to rant about from up here on my soapbox. Firstly, this is NOT a strictly Paleo blog. It’s a real food blog it’s just that many of the things that I choose to cook (because it’s MY blog) fall into that category of Paleo because that is what makes me feel good.  Secondly, there is no ONE Paleo diet. There never has been, there is only your version of Paleo, based on a template, that works for you. The Paleolithic Aboriginies would have had a very different natural diet to the Inuits, or the American Indians, neither right or wrong but what worked for them based on what was available. Eating in this manner is not designed in any way to mimic our Paleolithic ancestors completely, rather provide a framework based on real food so that we can work out what works for us as individuals. Seriously, caveman had no Paleo cookies but I’m damn sure he would if he could. If dairy & grains make you feel good, fill your boots. My point is that no-one is reaching optimal health from coco pops, microwave pizza & Doritos.

Now before I have to hear one more time that WE NEED CALCIUM from dairy, how about a bit of education around that. Calcium is BUT ONE of the factors that influences bone health. Other integral & equally as essential things are magnesium, vitamin D, reducing inflammation that is caused by excessive sugar & processed carbohydrates, adequate collagen, vitamins A & K2. It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are PLENTY of non-dairy sources of calcium that are an excellent option for people who don’t tolerate dairy or choose not to eat it. That being said, no, Grace has not had dairy yet because she is still being breastfed & eats loads of other calcium rich foods, not to mention the fact that I don’t tolerate dairy so it’s not something I have at home right now, BUT, I will certainly try her with it in the future and provided she tolerates it well then I think it can be a very healthful food. As with all food, quality matters, so I will look for the best quality organic dairy I can for her but you can do whatever floats your boat. Here’s a great graphic from Eat Drink Paleo to show non-dairy calcium sources.

calciumchart

Anyone who actually knows me, knows that I am not dogmatic in my approach and if you’ve been following me for a while you would know that I am far more passionate about improving your health in whatever way that looks like for you than preaching about the evils of non-Paleo foods. The purpose of this blog is to help you get back in their kitchen and get back to eating real food in the hopes that it will improve your health & wellness. I love to cook & eat delicious & nutrient dense food. If that’s not what you like, that’s cool, no-one’s forcing you to be here so with all due respect, rack-off.

Now I’m going to make like Tay-Tay & Shake It Off. Thanks for stopping by and a word of advice from my mum, ‘if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all’, she’s smart like that.

Super-Simple Paleo Choc Chip Cookies 

Choc chip cookies with 4 ingredients! Say whaaaaatt?!? I know. How is that even possible? Well it’s not only possible, I’d go as far as to say these are the best choc chip cookies ever….. And I’ve eaten a few (hundred) cookies in my time. They are crispy on the edges and chewy in the centre and they make a totally kick-ar$e ice cream sandwich. What more could you want from a cookie? Just a community service announcement, you are going to want to hide these from yourself once they are done or feed them to others because otherwise you will consume approximately 14 cookies. This recipes makes approximately 14 cookies depending on how much dough you eat. Would it be wrong to eat them all at once? Asking for a friend. Obviously. 

2 cups almond meal/hazelnut meal 

4 tbs honey/rice malt syrup/maple syrup/ coconut nectar

3 tbs ghee/butter/coconut oil

1/2 cup dark choc chips (or whatever kind of choc chips floats your boat)

Preheat oven to 170C. Add the almond meal & choc chips to a bowl. Add the ghee & honey to a mug and stir well to combine. Once that deliciousness is mixed pour it over the dry ingredients and mix them all together well until you have a dough that somewhat resembles the below image. If you use blanched almond flour you will have a lighter colored dough but don’t be racist, just use whatever you have. 

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Now, before you eat all the raw cookie dough, roll it into balls then flatten them into cookie shapes on your baking tray like so. Come to think of it, you could totally leave these as balls and eat them raw or have them as a raw cookie, or in ice cream as cookie dough…. The possibilities are endless.

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Now pop them into your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until just starting to brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15-20mins. That part is essential for 2 reasons…. The cookies need time to set as they cool &, perhaps more importantly, that business will burn the cr@p out of your tongue straight from the oven. These will keep really well in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer. They would also make a brilliant ice-cream sandwich. Just saying.

Paleo Pork, Apple & Fennel Schnitzel

 Who doesn’t love a good schnitty? I certainly do. You know a girlfriend of mine got taken on a 1st date once for schnitzel. That’s not even code for something.  It was an actual schnitzel. That’s how much he liked a schnitty. He never got a second date. Obviously she didn’t care for the crumbed meat as much as he did and his name forever-more became ‘schnitzel’….. Anyway, this schnitty would definitely get you a second date so get cooking. 

1 cup grated green apple

500g pork mince

2 tbs coconut flour

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 eggs

1-2 cups tapioca flour (you could use arrowroot instead)

1-2 cups almond meal

good pinch of salt & a good whack of pepper

oil for cooking, I used coconut oil but ghee, butter or macadamia oil would be fine too

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Add the apple and coconut flour to a bowl and toss well to coat the apple. Add the salt, pepper, fennel seeds & pork to the apple mix and mix it well. Hands work best for this task. Now shape this mincey business into schnitzel shapes and pop them on some baking paper. You will now need 3 separate bowls, I know, it’s more washing up than I’d fancy too but there is no way around this step so get on board. in one bowl add both eggs & whisk gently to combine, in another bowl add the tapioca flour, in the last bowl the almond meal.

Heat a large frypan on a low-med heat, while this is happening start schnitzeling. Take a schnitzel pattie, pop it in the tapioca flour to coat, then dunk it in the egg mix, then finally coat in the almond meal. Into your heated pan (that has the oil in it) add the schnitzels and cook until golden on both sides. That’s all. Now you eat. 

 

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Apricot Coconut Balls (paleo. primal. vegan)

So here’s the thing. This recipe was a throw together for funsies that ended up taking a pretty good pic and tasting really freaking good….. Except I didn’t write anything down. To be honest, by the time I found the photo on my camera I had completely forgotten what I had used apart from apricots & coconut. My recipe at that point read something along the lines of this…..

Apricots- some, coconut- no clue: choose your own adventure, cacao butter?- did I or didn’t I? Surely there was other ingredients? What the hell were they? Anyway, I made them again because I am nice like that. You’re welcome. 

200g dried apricots

100g coconut

70g Cacao butter (you could try substituting for coconut oil or ghee) 

1/2 tsp cinnamon 

1/4 cup coconut flour/almond meal/protein powder

Dark chocolate for drizzling- optional (let’s be honest, when is chocolate ever optional?) 

Ok so the method. Melt the cacao butter. Grab your food processor. Whack the apricots, cacao butter & coconut in and blend until it starts to come together like a dough but still a bit chunky. Add the cinnamon & coconut flour & pulse a few times to combine. If it’s still a bit wet to roll into balls yet just whack it in the freezer for about 10minutes then roll into balls. Melt the chocolate, drizzle it over the top then pop those bad boys in the fridge to set. These can be stored in the fridge or freezer depending on your level of willpower. 

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Very Merry 5 Minute Paleo Choccy Mousse

Through this wonderful world of the interwebs & blogosphere I have been lucky enough to meet so many bloody awesome humans and these two merry individuals are some of my faves. If you haven’t checked out The Merrymaker Sisters yet you are missing out so get on over & get merried. This recipe is from one of their awesome ebooks Make It Merry! 

This awesome recipe and loads of others you can score in the ULTIMATE AUSSIE WELLNESS BUNDLE. It’s a collection of over 35 food, health & wellness ebooks that are bundled together for ONE WEEK ONLY for $44.95. That’s over $450 worth of books. I know! Shut the front gate. Deal of the century. Better be quick, it’s for a week only. Run, don’t walk. 

serves: 4
time: 5 minutes
stuff you need

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup frozen berries (or any frozen fruit)

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

3 tbs. coconut oil

1 tbs. 100% maple syrup or raw honey

1 tsp. 100% vanilla extract

now what

Place all of the ingredients (except the berries) in to your blender or food processor (we use our Vitamix).

Whiz for 3 minutes or until super smooth.

Now add your frozen berries and whiz for another minute. It will start to instantly turn in to this amazing choccy frozen mousse!

merrymaker tip…
This is a super easy sweet treat, make it a little fancy and serve with grated paleo choccy and coconut chips!