Frozen Piña colada slice (no refined carbohydrates, vegan)

Frozen pina colada slice

Drinking cocktails is not exactly conducive to training for a 48-hour adventure race in June with several shorter races before hand, which is what I am doing at the moment. So this delicious slice made with the flesh from a young coconut is my way of enjoying a cocktail without the booze.

I have previously talked about the benefits and properties of coconut water (read here) and my favourite way to consume this refreshing, hydrating drink, especially after training sessions, is from a fresh, young coconut. Search YouTube for videos on how to open the young coconut. Once I have drank the coconut water I will scoop out the flesh with a strong metal spoon and eat it. However, I have found a new way to enjoy the flesh. I scoop it all out, freeze it, then blend it in my high speed Omniblend to make a frozen dessert. This Frozen Piña colada slice is one example. Make sure that you do not scoop out any of the hard inside of the coconut along with the flesh otherwise you will have some unpleasant crunchy bits in your dessert.

Frozen pina colado slice 2The base of this slice contains no refined carbohydrates and is made with coconut flour, almond meal, shredded coconut, stevia and coconut oil. The topping is made with young coconut flesh blended with coconut milk and fresh pineapple. A teaspoon of rum flavouring essence gives it the taste of a real Piña colada. Allow the slice to thaw slightly before you serve it and sprinkle it with some coconut flakes for a delicious and healthy refreshing dessert.

Frozen Piña colada slice

Ingredients

Base

1/3 cup coconut flour, sifted

½ cup almond meal

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1 tablespoon stevia

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup coconut milk

Topping

Flesh from one young coconut

1 cup coconut milk

½ a fresh pineapple with the core removed

1 teaspoon rum flavouring essence

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon stevia

Coconut flakes to sprinkle on top

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Large mixing bowl

Spoon to mix

20cm x 20cm or round baking tray

Baking paper

High-speed blender (I use an Omniblend)

Method

  • Add the coconut flour, almond meal, shredded coconut, stevia and salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.
  • Add in the vanilla extract, coconut oil and coconut milk and mix well. Press the base firmly and evenly into a baking tray (square or round) lined with baking paper using wet hands.
  • Place the base in the freezer while you prepare the topping.
  • For the topping, add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour the topping over the base and freeze the slice for at least 4 hours.
  • Allow the slice to thaw slightly before serving (about 2 hours in the fridge) and sprinkle with coconut flakes.

Chocolate, banana and peanut butter slice – my fuel for my first 8-hour Rogaine

Chocolate banana peanut butter sliceYou are likely thinking what the hell is a Rogaine? Rogaining is the sport of long distance cross-country navigation in which teams of two to five people visit as many checkpoints as they can in a set period of time, typically in the bush. The checkpoints are worth varying amounts of points depending on the level of difficulty in reaching them. The team that returns back to the starting point (referred to as the ‘Hash House’ and I have no idea why) within the set time frame with the most amount of points wins. You might say it is extreme, competitive bush walking!

I competed in my first Rogaining event last Saturday night. So here is what happened. We arrived at the event, which was in the middle of nowhere, for the map hand out at 8pm. All teams were given maps detailing the environment and showing the location of each of the checkpoints. Navigation is totally new to me, and my innate sense of direction is terrible, so I left it up to my two other team mates to plan out our route. They mapped out a course including as many checkpoints as we thought we could get to in 8 hours. The skill is all in the map reading, planning of the route and the navigation.

At 10pm the event began. Basically I followed my two male team mates through the bush for 8-hours, wearing headlights and shin guards, known as ‘gaiters’, while they navigated us to the checkpoints. We were hiking through thick shrub, climbing up rocks, running on rocky trails, avoiding spiders, snakes and toads, and having a great time. The photo below shows myself and one of my team mates. That is me in the blue.RogainI must admit that at about 2am I began questioning why I was participating in this event. I was feeling a bit fatigued and my ankles felt sore. I slammed down a gel, ate some of my Chocolate, banana and peanut butter slice (recipe below) and carried on running through the bush.

Just before the sun started to come up we realized that we would have to miss out on a number of our intended checkpoints in order to get back to the ‘Hash House’ within the time limit. The last two hours of the event involved us running on the trails to get back in time. We made it back at 5:57am – 3 minutes to spare.

Although we did not reach all of our checkpoints we still managed to finish third out of 50 teams. Not bad for my first Rogain. Honestly, it was all thanks to the navigation experience and skill of my team mates. I was just happy to try and keep up.

I took 2 gels for rapidly absorbed carbs, but I also wanted some real food, so I made this Chocolate, banana and peanut butter slice. It had a decent amount of carbohydrates from the banana, oats and honey without being sickly sweet. The peanut butter, nuts and coconut made it filling without being too heavy in my stomach. It was easy to eat and tasty also. This is an ideal whole food slice when you need slow release carbs for longer training sessions or races.

Chocolate banana peanut butter slice 3Chocolate, banana and peanut butter slice

Ingredients

1 mashed banana

¼ cup honey

1/3 cup peanut butter

½ cup coconut milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted

¼ cup coconut flour, sifted

¾ cup rolled oats

½ cup shredded coconut

¼ cup cashews

Utensils

Large mixing bowl

Fork

Measuring cups and spoons

Spoon

20cm x 20cm baking tray

Baking paper

Chocolate banana peanut butter slice 2Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160°C
  • Combine the mashed banana, honey, peanut butter, coconut milk and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Spoon the mixture into a 20cm x 20cm baking tray lined with baking paper.
  • Bake the slice in the oven at 160°C for 30 minutes. Allow the slice to cool briefly then use the edges of the baking paper to carefully remove it from the baking tray. If you are very careful, use a spatula to move the slice off the baking paper as I have found that allowing slices to cool with baking paper underneath can make them a bit soggy.
  • Allow to cool completely before slicing into squares.

If you are curious about the sport of Rogaining check out the Queensland Rogaine Association’s website http://www.qldrogaine.asn.au/qraonline/html/home.htm

Low carb coconut cookies

Low carb coconut cookiesIf you are a lover of coconut and are wanting to cut out refined carbohydrates from your diet then these delicious low carb coconut cookies are for you. They are made with coconut butter, coconut flour, shredded coconut, coconut milk, and coconut essence for a more intense coconutty flavour. These cookies are sweetened naturally by all that coconut plus with stevia.

Due to my adventure race last Sunday consisting of a 1.5km ocean swim, a 16km ocean and river paddle, a 12km trail run, a 22km mountain bike and a 2km run to finish I had to crop out a nasty sore on my thumb in the lower picture. I plan to post about the race very soon, which was so much fun might I add and made even better by the fact that I was the first female finisher, and how ‘fat adaptation’ and a low carbohydrate diet has helped me to be a better endurance athlete.

Low carb coconut cookies 2

Low carb coconut cookies

Makes 10 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup desiccated coconut

½ cup coconut flour

1 cup shredded coconut

2 tablespoons stevia

½ cup reduced fat coconut cream or coconut milk

1/3 cup Greek yoghurt

1 egg

½ teaspoon coconut essence

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Utensils

Food processor

Measuring cups and spoons

Large mixing bowl

Spoon

Large, flat baking tray or pizza tray

Baking paper

Method

  • Preheat oven to 160°C. Add the desiccated coconut to a food processor and process until it forms coconut butter (this takes at least 5 minutes).
  • Meanwhile mix together the coconut flour, shredded coconut and stevia in a large mixing bowl. Add in the coconut butter, coconut cream or milk, Greek yoghurt, egg, coconut essence and vanilla extract and mix well to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  • Shape the mixture into 10 small balls and flatten into round cookies. Bake at 160°C for 20 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool before eating.

Dessert makeover – healthier caramel cheesecake

Caramel cheesecakeIt was Saturday night and I felt like making a tasty dessert; but of course I wanted it to be healthy. My criteria for a ‘healthy dessert’ (this seems like an oxymoron) are the following: no refined carbohydrates, fairly low in calories, so without huge amounts of oil, butter or nuts, protein rich and contains dietary fibre. Don’t think that it is impossible to make a delicious dessert following these guidelines; it simply requires some creativity.

I created a healthier version of a Caramel cheesecake by making a chocolate base from ground almonds, coconut flour, which is low in carbohydrates, full of fibre but lower in calories than almond flour, light coconut milk, cocoa powder, egg white and stevia for sweetness. The Caramel cheesecake was made with low fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia Extra Light cream cheese, which has only 4.7 grams of fat or 132 calories per 100 grams), medjool dates, tahini, coconut milk and egg. Again I used stevia for sweetness. It turned out very well; so well, in fact, that the boyfriend and I ate over half the cheesecake. I had done a 22 km mountain bike ride that afternoon so I felt that this was acceptable.

 Healthier caramel cheesecake

Ingredients

Chocolate base

½ cup almonds

1/3 cup coconut flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon stevia

½ cup light coconut milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg white

Caramel cheesecake

1 tub of Philadelphia Extra Light cream cheese

¼ cup light coconut milk

5 medjool dates, pitted

2 tablespoons tahini

1 ½ tablespoons stevia

1 egg

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Food processor

Large mixing bowl

Spoon

20cm x 20cm baking tray

Baking paper

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C. Add the almonds to a food processor and process until they resemble a coarse flour. Tip the ground almonds into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add in the coconut flour, cocoa powder and stevia and mix to combine. Add in the coconut milk, vanilla extract and egg white and mix well to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  • Scoop the base mixture into a 20cm x 20cm baking tray lined with baking paper and press it down firmly and evenly with wet hands. Bake the base for 15 minutes at 160°C.
  • While the base is baking prepare the caramel cheesecake by adding all the ingredients to the food processor and processing until an even, fairly smooth texture is achieved (some small flecks of the dates will remain).
  • Pour the caramel cheesecake mixture over the base and bake for a further 45 minutes or until the cheesecake feels completely firm. Allow the cheesecake to cool slightly before removing it from the baking tray using the baking paper. Allow it to cool completely before slicing and serving.

High protein banana loaf plus some interesting research on bananas

Protein banana loaf 2This was a great snack for the boyfriend and I on Saturday morning before we took our paddleskis out in the ocean. Now I know that I normally avoid carbs but considering we were about to undertake a fair amount of physical activity I didn’t think that some was going to kill me; remember carbohydrates should be relative to activity levels. Furthermore, the carbs in this banana loaf were fairly unrefined, meaning that there was still a decent amount of dietary fibre remaining, plus the bananas have some vitamins and minerals.

So I had a bit of a look into the scientific literature to see if I could find anything interesting to tell you about research that has been conducted on bananas. It turns out that ripe bananas or Musa acuminata, contain an interesting lectin termed BanLec. Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins. BanLec binds to mannose structures, a carbohydrate that is found in abundance on the surface of the HIV-1 virus. A study published in 2010 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, which is quite a reputable journal, showed that BanLec could inhibit viral replication of various subtypes of HIV-1. It was found that this lectin blocked HIV entry into host cells (1). A more recent study showed that BanLec prevented infection of tobacco plants with tobacco mosaic virus (2).

I am certainly not suggesting that you can prevent infection with HIV by eating bananas, I just found this interesting and there is potential to isolate BanLec and use it as an anti-HIV vaginal microbicide. I wondered, however, about the side effects from using lectins as treatment options, as I a lot of my research involves looking at carbohydrates or glycans and their interactions. It has been reported that BanLec has mitogenic properties (3), meaning it promotes cell division, which could lead to cancer. However, it may be possible to modify BanLec to prevent this action.

Anyway, despite the presence of BanLec, this High protein banana loaf made with rolled oats, whey protein powder and egg, as well as cinnamon and coconut essence for flavour, was a tasty snack full of energy and protein.

Protein banana loafHigh protein banana loaf

Makes 1 small loaf

Ingredients

1 ½ cup rolled oats

2 bananas

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon

40 grams (about 2 scoops) of a good quality vanilla whey protein powder

½ cup coconut milk

1 egg

½ teaspoon coconut essence

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Large mixing bowl

Fork

Food processor

Spoon

Loaf pan (I used a non-stick silicone loaf pan)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C. Mash the bananas with a fork in the large mixing bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of the oats to a food processor and process until a flour-like texture is achieved.
  • Add the oat flour plus the remaining ½ cup of oats (or process all the oats if you prefer a finer textured loaf) along with the baking powder, cinnamon and whey protein powder to the mixing bowl and mix well to combine the ingredients.
  • Add in the coconut milk, egg and coconut essence and mix well to combine.
  • Pour the mixture into your loaf pan and bake in the oven 160°C for about 30 minutes or until the loaf feels firm on top. Allow the loaf to cool before removing from the pan and slicing.
  1. Swanson MD, Winter HC, Goldstein IJ, & Markovitz DM (2010) A lectin isolated from bananas is a potent inhibitor of HIV replication. The Journal of biological chemistry 285(12):8646-8655.
  2. LIu X-Y, Li H, & Zhang W (2014) The lectin from Musa paradisiaca binds with the capsid protein of tobacco mosaic virus and prevents viral infection. Biotechnol Biotechnol Equip 28(3):408-416.
  3. Gavrovic-Jankulovic M, et al. (2008) A novel recombinantly produced banana lectin isoform is a valuable tool for glycoproteomics and a potent modulator of the proliferation response in CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ populations of human PBMCs. The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology 40(5):929-941.

Strawberry and coconut chickpea blondie and Strawberry and coconut protein balls – both with no refined carbohydrates

Strawberry coconut protein ballsStrawberry and coconut are a beautiful combination. I have been going a bit crazy with strawberries lately as they are in season, hence they are delicious and reasonably priced. I have been putting them in everything from salads to cheesecakes to smoothie bowls. So why not continue this trend with two tasty recipes using the combination of strawberries with coconut.

Strawberry and coconut blondieThe Strawberry and coconut chickpea blondie was something I dreamed up today knowing that I had some strawberries in the fridge that had to be used, as well as some shredded coconut, coconut milk and a can of chickpeas. I also recently purchased some coconut essence to experiment with (only $1.10) and thought that this would go very well. I was pleased with the result. I had several pieces for dessert with Chobani Greek yoghurt mixed with coconut essence and vanilla whey protein powder.

Strawberry and coconut blondie 2The Strawberry and coconut protein balls I made earlier in the week and again I was happy with the outcome. Keep these protein balls covered in the fridge so they firm up.

Strawberry coconut protein balls 3Both recipes involving the great combination of strawberry and coconut are easy to prepare, are made with no refined carbohydrates and, most importantly, are tasty.

Strawberry and coconut blondie 3Strawberry and coconut chickpea blondie (no refined carbohydrates)

Ingredients

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon coconut essence

¼ cup Greek yoghurt

6 – 7 medium strawberries, washed and tops removed

½ cup coconut flour

½ cup shredded coconut

½ teaspoon baking paper

2 tablespoons stevia

2 egg whites

Utensils

Measuring cup and spoons

Food processor

Knife

Large mixing bowl

Spoon

20cm x 20cm baking tray

Baking paper

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C. Add the desiccated coconut to the food processor and process until it is almost the texture of coconut butter. Add some coconut milk to assist processing.
  • Add in the chickpeas, coconut milk, coconut essence and Greek yoghurt and process until the chickpeas are pulverized and the mixture is fairly smooth. Add in the strawberries and continue processing until the strawberries are combined through the mixture and are chopped finely (I left some strawberry chunks for texture).
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the coconut flour, shredded coconut, baking powder and stevia. Add in the egg whites and mix them through the dry ingredients. Add in the chickpea mixture and mix well to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  • Pour the mixture into a baking tray lined with baking paper. Smooth the blondie mixture out with the back of a spoon. Bake the blondie in the oven for about 35 minutes or until it feels firm.
  • Remove the blondie from the pan using the baking paper and allow it to cool before slicing.

Strawberry coconut protein balls 2Strawberry and coconut protein balls

Makes 8 large balls

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts

1 cup of whole strawberries, washed and tops removed

1 cup shredded coconut

¼ cup desiccated coconut

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 scoops of a good quality vanilla whey protein powder

½ teaspoon coconut essence

Extra desiccated coconut for rolling

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Food processor

Chopping board

Method

  • Add the walnuts to a food processor and process until the nuts resemble the texture of coarse crumbs. Add in the remaining ingredients and continue processing until the mixture starts to form a firm ball. If the mixture seems too moist add in additional protein powder and/or desiccated coconut until it is sufficiently firm.
  • Sprinkle desiccated coconut onto a chopping board. Shape the mixture into balls using wet hands and roll the balls in the desiccated coconut. Refrigerate the balls until they are firm. Store the balls covered in the fridge.

Remove the blondie from the pan using the baking paper and allow it to cool before slicing.

Frozen mint chocolate slice (no refined carbohydrates

Frozen mint choc sliceI must admit that I am finding it challenging to arrange and take photos of tasty, healthy food; especially when I train after work. At that point I am starving and I just want to eat the food. Tonight was one of those situations. I took my paddleski out this morning before work then did a 45 minute run after work. Taking photos of this Frozen mint chocolate slice before I ate my dinner was a struggle.

Frozen mint choc slice 1This slice is incredibly easy to make, requires no baking whatsoever, contains no refined carbohydrates (no refined sugars or grains) and tastes pretty dam good too!! It also looks pretty cool with the green minty layer (thanks to the avocado) and the soft, rich chocolate layer below.Frozen mint choc slice 2

I would actually consider this quite a healthy dessert as it is contains antioxidants from the cocoa powder, some quality fats from the cashews and coconut, which provide a feeling of satiety or fullness so you are less tempted to overeat (it is difficult not to overeat this slice I can assure you), additional quality fats plus vitamins and minerals from the avocado and fibre from the prunes and coconut. I tried to lower the calorie content by using reduced fat coconut cream, prunes and Greek yoghurt and by sweetening it with stevia. The chocolate layer stays slightly soft even when it is frozen making it easier to eat with a spoon.

Frozen mint chocolate slice (no refined carbohydrates)

Ingredients

Chocolate layer

½ cup cashews

½ cup desiccated coconut

½ cup reduced fat coconut cream

½ cup of pitted prunes

3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I have been using Dutch cocoa powder at the moment and it is delicious)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ tablespoon stevia

Mint layer

½ an avocado

¾ cup of reduced fat coconut cream

½ cup Greek yoghurt

1 ½ tablespoons stevia

½ teaspoon peppermint extract

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

Food processor

Sharp knife

Spoon

20cm x 20cm baking tray (I used a baking tray that was slightly smaller than this)

Baking paper

Method

  • For the chocolate layer, add the cashews and coconut to the food processor and process until the cashews are finely chopped. Add in the remaining ingredients and process until the mixture forms a thick, paste-like consistency (this mixture is quite sticky).
  • Spoon the chocolate layer into the baking tray lined with baking paper and spread this out smoothly with the back of a dessert spoon. Place the chocolate layer into the freezer while you prepare the mint layer. Clean the food processor.
  • For the mint layer, add all the ingredients to the clean food processor and process until a smooth, even consistency is achieved. Pour the mint layer over the chocolate layer and smooth it out with the back of a dessert spoon. Place the mint chocolate slice back into the freezer and freeze for at least 6 hours. Allow the slice to thaw in the fridge for about 20 minutes before slicing.