Healthier quick and easy Sticky date pudding

healthy-sticky-date-pudding-3This weekend was another big one for me. On Saturday I competed in a 21km trail run in horrendous conditions. It had been pouring with rain all night and the trails were muddy to say the very least. My Hokas were so caked in mud that they were sliding off my feet as I was running. Every now and then a big chunk of mud would fly off my shoes and hit me in the back of the leg. Despite the conditions I still managed a win for the females and placed 4th overall. Then on Sunday I competed for the first time in the Flight Centre Cycle Epic.

Cycle Epic 2016 - Images © ESi sports photography

Here I am winning the 21km trail run

The Epic is an 87km mountain bike race consisting of a mixture of fire roads, single track, flowy single trails and some steep, rocky climbs. Due to the rain the race was postponed until 10am on Sunday and the course was shortened to 77kms. This was my longest mountain bike race to date. Actually, I haven’t done a lot of mountain bike racing and I was feeling a bit nervous prior to the start. I was concerned about the mud on the course and I was concerned that I would be slowing down faster riders. It took a good 30kms before I finally relaxed and started to enjoy the race. At the 40km mark I had a quick chat to our wonderful supporters, topped up my water, downed a mini Mars bar and continued for the last 37kms.

I felt more comfortable going in to the last 37kms because those riders who were doing the 40km race were finished at that point. This meant that there were less riders on the course and I did not have to worry about getting stuck behind slower riders or in front of faster riders. I really started to enjoy the race and felt like I was riding quite strong and confidently. I was pleased to finish the 77kms in just under 5 hours – faster than I expected – and 7th age group female.

Cycle Epic 2016 - Images © ESi sports photography

And here I am taking out the Female Overall Champion of Epic Endurance! My best trophy so far and the Shiraz was very nice.

I achieved my goal for the weekend, which was to take out the Female Overall Champion of Epic Endurance! Quite a name, isn’t it? I won this because I finished both the 21km trail run and the 87km (well 77km actually) mountain bike race with the fastest combined time. It was totally worth getting covered in mud for.

My eating was not great over the weekend. We camped over the weekend and I had burgers, beers and pizza at the Barn Bar. I was more focused on racing than anything else so I didn’t bother preparing any proper meals. During the mtb race I was doing Cliff bars, gels and my new favourite race food – mini Mars bars. These are the best. Rapidly digestible carbs that are tasty and easy to eat. And the chocolate makes you feel good. I also had a bottle of Trailbrew; a new energy/hydration mix made by my friend Troy.

So after a weekend of pretty junky food I was looking forward to getting back to eating well. That doesn’t mean I have to go without dessert. Tonight I had a go at making a healthier version of Sticky date pudding with a Warm caramel sauce. Our oven is in the process of being replaced so I made these mini Sticky date puddings using the microwave.

I made them with dates, erythritol, coconut flour, flaxmeal and coconut milk, so they are high in fibre and not loaded with refined carbohydrates. The warm caramel sauce was made with Greek yoghurt, coconut milk, erythritol and vanilla bean paste.

The combination of coconut flour and flaxmeal give the pudding a firm but soft texture. If you are not familiar with flaxmeal, or golden flaxseed meal, this is the product left after pressing flaxseeds to get flaxseed oil. Flaxseeds and linseeds are actually the same thing, however, flaxseed is used to describe flax when consumed as food while linseed is used to describe flax when it is used in industry or for animal feed. Flaxmeal is low in carbs, high in fibre and low in fat. The nutritional information tells me that it contains only 8.0 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, 33 grams of fibre per 100 grams and 12 grams of fat per 100 grams. It really is high in fibre so do not over consume flaxmeal. I found that it really gets my bowels moving and I can see how too much could cause gastrointestinal issues, so please be aware. A small amount of flaxmeal added to baking seems to give a doughy texture. I also like to make a little pudding with flaxmeal, as it takes on a gel consistency when combined with liquid.

healthy-sticky-date-puddingBack to the Sticky date pudding. Not only were these Sticky date puddings healthier than traditional sticky date pudding, which is full of sugar, butter and refined white flour, but they were very quick and easy to make. I blended all the ingredients together, poured the mixture into two small bowls and microwaved the puddings for 3.5 minutes each. That is it!

Healthier Sticky date pudding with warm caramel sauce

Makes 2 serves


½ cup pitted dates soaked in ½ cup of boiling water

½ cup coconut milk (I used low fat to reduce the calories)

1 tablespoon erythritol

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1 tablespoon flaxmeal

¼ cup coconut flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

Warm caramel sauce

1/3 cup Greek yoghurt

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon erythritol

½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

A few drops of maple extract


Measuring cups and spoons

3 small microwave safe bowls

Food processor




  • Allow the dates to soak in the boiling water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Add the dates to the food processor and process until they are finely chopped.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients and process until the mixture is well combined and smooth.
  • Divide the pudding mixture between two small, microwave safe bowls.
  • Microwave each pudding for 3.5 minutes. This may vary depending on your microwave but I basically microwaved them until they were completely firm and starting to come away from the sides of the bowl.
  • While the puddings are cooking in the microwave, prepare the Warm caramel sauce by combing all the ingredients in a small, microwave safe bowl.
  • Mix until well combined (you could also add all the ingredients to a clean food processor and process to combine).
  • Microwave the sauce for 30 seconds. Give the sauce a mix. If it is warm enough do not microwave further. If it gets too hot the yoghurt will curdle.
  • Tip the puddings upside down onto two plates. Poke holes all over the warm puddings with a fork.
  • Pour the caramel sauce evenly over the puddings allowing it to soak in.
  • Serve and enjoy.healthy-stick-date-pudding-2

My first ultra distance trail run (96kms) and improvements for the next one

Two weekends ago I completed a very challenging, yet rewarding event – the 96km Kokoda Challenge. This event takes competitors through the Hinterland of the Gold Coast in QLD, Australia. With elevations reaching 550m, this is not an easy event. According to the organisers, the 96km Kokoda Challenge Gold Coast is hailed as Australia’s toughest endurance event.

Kokoda Challenge Elevation Profile Overview

Teams of 4 make their way through the 96km course consisting of fire roads, 12 creek crossings and 5000m of vertical elevation. The event is in honour of the Australian troops during World War II who battled on the actual Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. In order to qualify for a place the entire team of four must start, reach each checkpoint and finish all together.

Kokoda 2016 winHere we are as the winning ladies team

I am pleased to say that our team was the first all ladies team and was third overall. To put this into perspective there were 55 all ladies team and 330 teams in total. We finished with a time of 15 hours 14 minutes. The overall winners finished with a time of 13 hours 57 minutes. The second placed ladies team finished with a time of 20 hours 1 minute. So we pretty much smashed our closest rivals (yes, I am a tad competitive).

Kokoda 2016 finishThis is us just after we finished – did I mention that it rained for over half the event?

Enough bragging. So now I will provide some details about how we, myself in particular, completed the race and improvements I will make for my next ultra distance trail running event, which is back-to-back trail marathons on Saturday August 13 and Sunday August 14.

  1. Foot care is paramount. My biggest mistake was not wearing good trail running shoes. The longest run I had done prior to the Kokoda Challenge was 5 hours. The shoes I had were OK for that period but not for 15 hours! In fact, I should have anticipated that I would have some trouble as even after 5 hours the shoes I was wearing were uncomfortable. I went out and bought some Hoka Challengers the very next day. I was using a foot balm to prevent blisters but the shoes I was wearing were not made for the ultra distance. Experiment with shoes before hand and make sure you have a quality pair of trail running shoes made for ultra distance. You do not want to end up with a blister the size of the one I had (see below photo).IMG_1496
  2. Keep your nutrition simple. Although I try to avoid refined carbohydrates in my every day diet, and this is because they are easy to over eat as they provide little fibre and nutritional value (I am by no means perfect, however, and do enjoy the odd pizza and corn chips), when it comes to racing I go for simple, easily digestible carbohydrates. I like to train on weekdays with little carbs and generally keep my carbohydrate intake low to become more fat adapted, but during races I consume what ever I need to allow my body to perform the best that it can. At checkpoints I was eating caffeinated gels, lollies, white bread sandwiches, salted potato chips, bananas, instant coffee and an oat slice. In addition, I was consuming an electrolyte mix called Tailwind. I really like this product. It is made by endurance athletes and consists of dextrose, sucrose, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The flavours are not overly sweet and this product dissolves rapidly and quickly. Running with food in your stomach sucks so you need to find nutrition that you can quickly get down and will not cause stomach issues. Other members in my team were also using Tailwind along with gels, noodles, biscuits, rice and even chia pudding. Nutritional advice for racing can vary widely depending on opinion. I recommend experimenting and finding out what works for you. For me, although this seems in complete opposition to just about all the recipes I post on this blog, I go for easy to consume refined carbohydrates while racing.
  3. Invest in some good poles if there is a lot of steep hiking. If you are planning on entering an ultra event that has a lot of steep uphill sections, I recommend a decent set of poles. Having poles on the really steep sections takes the impact off your legs. I would only recommend them for races with very steep climbs. A set that can collapse and be placed into your backpack is ideal.
  4. Have a great support crew. There is nothing better than having a well organized, caring and motivating support crew. If you are doing an event that requires support crew, it is ideal to have members who have experience racing or supporting. They will know the questions to ask and the items to have ready for you. It can really make a huge difference to your race.
  5. Keep mobile the next day and eat well. I woke up the morning after the Kokoda Challenge pretty dam sore. My legs were sore all over, my feet were swollen and I had little sleep. However, I found that the more I moved the better my legs felt. So keep lightly active the days following the event. Try to avoid long periods of time sitting down to prevent pooling of fluid in your feet and legs.
  6. Allow yourself adequate time to recover before getting back into training. This may seem obvious but I always find after I do well in a race my immediate thoughts are about preparing for the next race. You need to control yourself and allow yourself to recover. I don’t think this is being ‘soft’ but I believe this is being sensible. I may have jumped back into training too quickly and I am now having some foot pain. Also, catch up on lost sleep.

So there are my tips on how I will improve for my next ultra distance trail event. I am by no means an expert at this point in time, but I have been performing consistently well in trail running races and hope to continue as I increase the distance of my races in the future.

Kokoda 2016 startWe love posing for the camera

Well I had an interesting weekend….

140516 win and hospitalIt began with me winning the first of the 20km Nerang Short Course trail running series in a time of 1:38:12. Later that day I was catching waves out at Currumbin Beach on my paddle ski with my new carbon paddle. What I didn’t realize was how sharp the blades of my new paddle were. I had the paddle attached to my ski and tried to hold onto it as I bailed off a wave. As I let go of the paddle it sliced the inside of my right thumb. I looked down at my hand to see a deep cut gushing with blood. I managed to swim in with the ski (thanks to the help of my brave boyfriend Eithy). When I got to the beach I realized that I was unable to bend my thumb – the tendon had been cut. All’s well that ends well. I have had surgery to rejoin the tendon and am at home feeling well. I have learnt some lessons about trying out new equipment also. I am disappointed about the interruption to my training, but I suspect I will be back running this week. However, mountain biking and paddling may take several weeks longer. Looking on the bright side the injury could have been worse and I will be diligent with the rehabilitation to ensure I recover full movement of my thumb.