The No-Crap VEGAN Chocolate Banana Loaf!

no-crap

 

AFTER POPULAR DEMAND TO VEGANISE MY LAST RECIPE…..So, bye bye eggs!

 

So I posted some pics on Instagram last week of a new protein, low sugar, gluten free/dairy free/soya free chocolate banana loaf recipe that I had been working on, and promised the type up my scribbled notes into a legible format for you all.

We aren’t really cake eaters in this house, and avoid as much processed junk as possible but sometimes you just need something dense and chocolatey that won’t spike your insulin levels leaving you crashing in energy and piling on the pounds!

By removing traditional flour from recipes and substituting with oats and almonds, you cut the carbohydrates right down (and everyone knows thats carbs turn to sugar in the body, which in turn can cause obesity and diabetes if consumed in excess and not burnt off!).  Using oats and almonds also make sure we are getting a good whack of protein which aids muscle growth and repair, along with helping us to stay feeling fuller for longer.  And finally, they also help to slow down the effects of the natural sugars in the recipe by binding with them, giving a constant and slow source of energy without the spikes and crashes!

We never use sugar in the traditional sense in this house either; always preferring to use naturally occurring and unrefined alternatives such as fruit, or either brown rice or maple syrup.  We also use these natural sugars in a FAR less quantity than you would use traditional sugars in a recipe and we NEVER use any nasty artificial sweeteners as replacements (you know they were invented as a pesticide right??  And cause a whole load of health issues, especially with the joints and muscles!  Plus can cause obesity by both tricking the brain and encouraging over-eating!).  

But we aren’t boring and restricted….Mummy likes a good Gin on a night out and the babies enjoy chips and a slush puppy at the beach!   We live our life by a 80/20 rule – 80% a wholesome, natural, colourful, varied, and purposeful diet mixed with about 20% crap for fun 😉

Anyway……..

Back to the recipe rather than the science behind the ingredients I chose!  As the cake loaf is so naturally dense, you really only need two small slices to curb a sweet craving and leaving you feeling satisfied…..ENJOY!

Ingredients:

75g oats (certified gluten-free)
75g ground almonds
10g cacao powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 medium ripe bananas*
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons organic brown rice syrup (MUST be organic to avoid arsenic!)
50g chopped dates
4 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil (plus a little to grease the loaf tin)
1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (depending on preference)

*Not a fan of bananas??  Then use 360g of unsweetened cooled stewed apple, seasoned with nutmeg & cinnamon to taste.

Method:

  1. Grease a small silicone loaf tin & preheat a fan assisted oven to 160°C/320°F or gas mark 3 (adjust accordingly for a non-fan assisted oven!).
  2. Put the oats, almonds, bicarbonate of soda, and cacao into a food processor and blitz with the bladed attachment until they form more of a chunky flour consistency (you may need to alternate between a pulse and a blitz depending on how powerful your machine is!).
  3. Add in all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT from the dark chocolate drops, and blitz/pulse until a thick cake mixture is formed.
  4. Remove blade from the food processor bowl and stir in the dark chocolate drops.
  5. Tip the mixture into the greased silicone loaf tray and bake on the middle shelf in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through (you may want to check the loaf in the middle with a skewer after 15 minutes).
  6. Remember this recipe makes a dense loaf-style cake, not a sponge so it won’t really rise but will be very moist and substantial! 
  7. Once cooked, remove the silicone loaf tin from the oven and place on a raised cooling rack for around 10 minutes.
  8. Gently tip the loaf out of the silicone tin and onto the cooling rack for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve either hot or cold – we loved our warm with a little drizzle of oat cream over the top…..PERFECT! 

 

cake-big-bowl.jpg

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

The No-Crap Chocolate Banana Loaf!

no-crap

 

So I posted some pics on Instagram last week of a new protein, low sugar, gluten free/dairy free/soya free chocolate banana loaf recipe that I had been working on, and promised the type up my scribbled notes into a legible format for you all.

We aren’t really cake eaters in this house, and avoid as much processed junk as possible but sometimes you just need something dense and chocolatey that won’t spike your insulin levels leaving you crashing in energy and piling on the pounds!

By removing traditional flour from recipes and substituting with oats and almonds, you cut the carbohydrates right down (and everyone knows thats carbs turn to sugar in the body, which in turn can cause obesity and diabetes if consumed in excess and not burnt off!).  Using oats and almonds also make sure we are getting a good whack of protein which aids muscle growth and repair, along with helping us to stay feeling fuller for longer.  And finally, they also help to slow down the effects of the natural sugars in the recipe by binding with them, giving a constant and slow source of energy without the spikes and crashes!

We never use sugar in the traditional sense in this house either; always preferring to use naturally occurring and unrefined alternatives such as fruit, or either brown rice or maple syrup.  We also use these natural sugars in a FAR less quantity than you would use traditional sugars in a recipe and we NEVER use any nasty artificial sweeteners as replacements (you know they were invented as a pesticide right??  And cause a whole load of health issues, especially with the joints and muscles!  Plus can cause obesity by both tricking the brain and encouraging over-eating!).  

But we aren’t boring and restricted….Mummy likes a good Gin on a night out and the babies enjoy chips and a slush puppy at the beach!   We live our life by a 80/20 rule – 80% a wholesome, natural, colourful, varied, and purposeful diet mixed with about 20% crap for fun 😉

Anyway……..

Back to the recipe rather than the science behind the ingredients I chose!  As the cake loaf is so naturally dense, you really only need two small slices to curb a sweet craving and leaving you feeling satisfied…..ENJOY!

Ingredients:

75g oats (certified gluten-free)
75g ground almonds
10g cacao powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 medium eggs
2 medium ripe bananas*
4 tablespoons organic brown rice syrup (MUST be organic to avoid arsenic!)
50g chopped dates
4 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil (plus a little to grease the loaf tin)
1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (depending on preference)

*Not a fan of bananas??  Then use 230g of unsweetened cooled stewed apple, seasoned with nutmeg & cinnamon to taste.

Method:

  1. Grease a small silicone loaf tin & preheat a fan assisted oven to 160°C/320°F or gas mark 3 (adjust accordingly for a non-fan assisted oven!).
  2. Put the oats, almonds, bicarbonate of soda, and cacao into a food processor and blitz with the bladed attachment until they form more of a chunky flour consistency (you may need to alternate between a pulse and a blitz depending on how powerful your machine is!).
  3. Add in all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT from the dark chocolate drops, and blitz/pulse until a thick cake mixture is formed.
  4. Remove blade from the food processor bowl and stir in the dark chocolate drops.
  5. Tip the mixture into the greased silicone loaf tray and bake on the middle shelf in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through (you may want to check the loaf in the middle with a skewer after 15 minutes).
  6. Remember this recipe makes a dense loaf-style cake, not a sponge so it won’t really rise but will be very moist and substantial! 
  7. Once cooked, remove the silicone loaf tin from the oven and place on a raised cooling rack for around 10 minutes.
  8. Gently tip the loaf out of the silicone tin and onto the cooling rack for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve either hot or cold – we loved our warm with a little drizzle of oat cream over the top…..PERFECT! 

 

cake-big-bowl.jpg

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Happy 7th Anniversary!

7th anniversary

So, no, this isn’t my wedding anniversary (ha!).  No.  This Summer I am celebrating 7 glorious years of single-parenthood 😀  I know, I can’t quite believe my babies are growing up so quickly!  Seems like only yesterday I was patting my growing tummy and suffering from horrific sickness ha!   My babies make me incredibly proud, even with the meltdowns and pre-teen eye-rolling!

Being a single parent has certainly changed over the years.  I remember choosing to do it alone the first time around 11 years ago; I was in my early 20’s, career-driven and after struggling with fertility issues never in my wildest dreams thought it would be possible to ever carry a child of my own.  I look back now and realise how people generally pitied me for being a lone parent, like I somehow was suddenly in a sub-standard class, struggling and unwanted.

unplanned.jpg

Second time around three years later things were slightly better, although perhaps I had toughened up and learnt to take less shit 😉  These days however, times have changed dramatically.

Single mothers are no longer pitied.  We are feared, and so we should be!  We deal with more before 6am than you will ever know.  We fight battle after battle for our babies, and we do it with absolute grace.  We take no shit, and walk away from drama queens (you know who you are).  No longer does society view us as weak beings, struggling to cope.  But now rather as strong, powerful females who to do it all (and more!)  

I’m not going to lie and say it’s always easy.  It’s not.  Especially with my own health issues and raising two wonderfully quirky babies both with varying additional needs.  But I can tell you this……..choosing to raise my babies full time single-handedly will win each and every time, hands down 😉

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

When the music just isn’t doing it….

busy-brain

Does your brain ever feel so busy that you are sure it’s about to explode?  Usually a good dance to loud music or exercise (on my good health days) really helps to clear the noise and get clarity on my thoughts.  Music is a wonderful tool for the brain, I live for music!  I wrote a previous blog about it’s therapeutic qualities which you can read here.  But lately neither exercise or music have worked.

It’s been a very difficult few months; health flare ups, massive issues with my youngest baby’s education (or lack of, but that’s whole other rant!); studying; exams; life.  I’ve been running on an empty-autopilot state for the past few months, under huge demands, not really processing much, just fire-fighting situations and trying to get through my exams.

If you follow me on social media, then you will know that despite everything going on (and being a single mummy to two wonderful quirky kids!) that my hard work paid off – I am now a fully qualified Fitness Instructor, YAY!  This means I can better meet the needs of my clients, rather than simply focussing on good nutrition.  But I will write more about that another time, sooooo exciting!

Anyway, back to my busy brain……side tracked again!  So when music and exercise fail to clear my mind sufficiently, I jump in the car and head to one of my special places to reflect and sort the crap.  I have four main special places which help me to reflect:

  1. Cardiff Bay – this is not so much the ‘place’ but who I feel close to when I am there; miss you always xxx.
  2. Caerphilly Mountain – this is a few minutes from where I live so I head there quite often if I need a quick ‘fix’ and can’t get to Cardiff Bay.
  3. My Aunty’s grave in Gloucestershire – although since moving away I haven’t had much opportunity to visit.  I need to make more time, I’m sorry.
  4. Torquay – before the babies came along, any sign of trouble or overwhelm and I was straight in that car!  Sometimes I didn’t even pre-book accomodation, just knocked on hotel doors until I found space.  These days I have to be less spontaneous due to said babies.  But we still enjoy heading to the ‘English Riviera’ once a year, although not much peace these days to reflect!

So, today I was meant to be going for a swim during my two hours of childfree time as it helps my Lymphoedema and EDS.  But instead I got the pull to grab the dog (we are looking after the most gorgeous doggie this week for a friend!) and head to Cardiff Bay.  I’ve hardly slept in weeks, so this busy head needed to empty!

It may sound odd, but when I reflect I am able to visualise a spreadsheet where I can sort all my tasks, thoughts, feelings etc into tables and columns to give me more clarity on situations.  It doesn’t necessarily always stop my brain being as busy, but stops a lot of the rushing around and muddling that can happen when i’ve been running on autopilot too long.

I envy those who successfully manage to meditate each day.  I just don’t have the alone time or patience for it, so for me I have to ‘reflect’ on the go which probably isn’t the most productive way to sort a busy brain, but hey life and shit happens.  So a calming walk around the Bay was the ‘meditation’ I really needed – I won’t dwell on the part where I had to pick up the biggest dog shit from right outside Starbucks – thanks Douglas for your audience witnessed crap! 

Welcome to my random life 😉

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Grateful Reflections…

GoT_Christmas

 

Most people will think I absolutely love Christmas, afterall I am forever dancing around to the cheesy Christmas tunes embarrassing my babies and couldn’t wait to dust off the novelty jumpers & awful sickly festive DVDS!  But in reality, Christmas for me is a very difficult time, as it is for many others.

In 2006 I lost my Poppa on Christmas Day, followed by my wonderful Nanny 30th December a few years later.  These two deaths alone made me dread the Christmas period, but as a Mummy you learn pretty bloody quickly to paint that smile on and chuck yourself into the festivities to ensure your babies have the most magical time.

Then in December 2014 I had my cancer treatment.  As a mother it absolutely broke me being so unwell and not able to give my babies the Christmas they would normally have.  But equally, it was probably one of the most touching and special as we weren’t rushing around trying to cram everything in.  I also remember getting a pretty spectacular phone call late Christmas Eve; my wonderful Oncologist wanted to tell me personally I was cancer free.   I will always be indebted to that man for giving me more time with my babies.  Always.  

This year, the lead up to the festive season has been very difficult again, but for reasons I’m not quite ready to share just yet.  But my duty as a Mummy will always be to ensure that my babies have magical memories.  I of all people know how precious these are.

Despite the challenges surrounding Christmas, a text I got from a good friend prompted me to reflect and appreciate some of the wonderful people I have around me.  He called me ‘pigheaded’ because I have a tendency to shut down & not deal with certain shit.  Now, if anyone else would have called me that they would have been firmly told where to go ha!  But I think he is probably the one person who can get away with it & actually make me question my actions.  For that I love him, even if he is a car-nut chav 😉  And I probably don’t tell him enough how incredibly proud of him I am.

Then there is the Northern blonde bombshell who just says it like it is whether I want to hear it or not lol!  And the loveable cocky Glaswegian who drives me absolutely mad, but has a heart of gold.  The ginger swadie who I miss more than he realises.  And my wonderful ‘adoptive’ family who would do anything for my babies & have been there through thick and thin over the past 8 years.   I Love you all x

I think sometimes we get so blinkered fixating on just getting through each day that we forget to step back and appreciate those around us.  And for anyone else who finds Christmas hard, I’m sending you a hug & vodka 😉

And always remember…..

grateful

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

A Busy Mum’s Summer in Pictures

So, the Summer holidays can sometimes fill a busy mum with dread BUT in reality between all the sibling squabbles and billion demands for a snack, perfect memories are made!  You can read my rather humorous recap of ‘Day One’ of the holidays HERE!

This year we had one of our BEST summers ever thanks to my clever planning ahead!  Our weeks were filled with laughter, holidays, daytrips, friends, family, good food, smiling monkeys, saucy tortoises, detoxing (me, not the babies!), training for a mud run (also me!).  

Here is what this busy mummy and her wonderful babies got up to this summer!

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Still Kicking Cancer’s Butt – Yay Go Me!

Warrior

This afternoon’s ‘office’ (Friday 14th) is sat on the step of the harbour lock at Cardiff Bay, overlooking the water.  Those close to me will know the significance of this place.  I can feel him sat with me, silently…..and then eventually telling me to get off my phone lol!  We miss you xxx.

Anyway…….

What a week!  The lead up to my Oncology check ups are always very difficult.  I tend to shut myself off from people, chuck myself into exercise (when well enough), work, studying, DIY and dance like a buffoon around the kitchen to try to dull the wait.  Sometimes it works better than others. I’m glad today is over for another six months.

Anyway, yes thats me TWO years and 7 months clear of cancer now!!!  I can’t quite believe it!  Wow, a lot has happened in those two years.  That doesn’t mean I’m ‘free’ from the aftermath of cancer mind; people forget that cancer treatment is only the very first step (but that’s another blog post!).  For me I have a love/hate relationship with my cancer.

I hate my cancer because:

  1. Of the unbearable fear it caused incase I had to leave my young kids without their mummy (anyone who knows me, knows I am a complete tigress when it comes to my babies!)
  2. Of the pain my children suffered.  I will never forget the day I had to tell them.
  3. Of the time it stole from our lives.
  4. My decision to have more kids was ripped away.
  5. I’m left with permanent daily complications.
  6. Of the chance of recurrence.
  7. I had to go through major and risky surgery – and suffered a big bleed on the operating table (I thank my wonderful surgeon each day for saving me!)
  8. I’m sometimes angry about the medical neglect and delayed diagnosis.

BUT, I also LOVE my cancer too (odd ‘ey?!) because:

  1. It’s allowed me a freedom I’ve never experienced; like proper life changing freedom!  Hard to explain, but I’m finally free.
  2. I’ve learnt to love hard and proper – never mediocre & no apologies.
  3. I’ve learnt to commit hard and proper to people, work, life – never mediocre.
  4. I can now walk away from things that don’t benefit us.
  5. I’ve learnt to appreciate the simple, thoughtful things & gestures in life.
  6. I’ve mastered the art of saying ‘no’ to people.
  7. I’m stronger, more confident and happier than ever.
  8. It’s also made me more spontaneous, ambitious and adventurous than ever.
  9. I now have a zero tolerance of bullshit. No exceptions.
  10. It’s made me more honest, open and blunt like never before (and I wont apologise for it, sorry!)
  11. It’s taught me that ‘failure’ and ‘adapt’ are two very different things.  I never fail.  Ever.
  12. I will never take a ‘passive’ role in our medical care ever again.
  13. It’s taught me that you are responsible for making your own happiness in life.
  14. It made me both limit and value those people I now welcome into our lives – feel privileged if you are still part of our ‘team.’  We Love you!  For those of you no longer in our lives, it’s probably due to number 9 on this list! *scrolls back up lol!*
  15. Finally, and most importantly; I’m a better mummy to my beautiful babies. (Ok, I was already pretty amazing before, but you know!)

So you see I have FAR more reasons to LOVE my cancer, than to hate it. I know that will seem odd to many people.  Wow, it feels odd to even say it; really wasn’t where this blog was originally heading!  Yes, there are days where I struggle to see the positives it’s given me.  But today isn’t one of those.

Cancer; you may have taken loved ones, but I can guarantee you will never take me…….I’m just too damn awesome for you baby!



Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

 

Five Easy Steps to Improve Family Nutrition

 

For many busy families, trying to make the leap into a healthier lifestyle can seem an enormous daunting task.  Parents are pulled in every direction; the media bombards us with conflicting information regarding diet; kids are always on the go or being fussy; pressures from society.

HOWEVER, fear not!

Here are my 5 easy steps to introduce your family into a healthier nutrition lifestyle, without really doing very much!

  1. Stop buying shop-bought condiments – it’s amazing what you can make in under 2 minutes without any nasty artificial processed ingredients (jump to the bottom for our amazing tasting ketchup recipe!)
  2. Limit take out to 1-2 times a month – but then eat it without guilt and enjoy!
  3. Use the crock-pot/slow-cooker – especially as the weather turns colder – there is nothing more comforting than coming through to door in the evening to that gorgeous smelling dinner all done 🙂
  4. Get the kids involved in the food preparation & allow them to plate their own meals – it gives THEM power and satisfaction
  5. Take the kids to a local farm shop or world food supermarket – kids are fascinated by facts and new items

By making small simple changes, you will find your family naturally begins to gravitate towards healthier choices as a way of life, enjoying and experiencing new exciting foods and cultures.

Try it!

 

Homemade Sugar-free Ketchup 

Ingredients:

300g tomato puree

200g passata

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon mustard powder

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

2 shakes of ground allspice

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing well.
  2. Store in a jar in the refrigerator, using as required.
  3. Enjoy as part of your 5-a-day!

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©