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 ©

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 ©

Cancer Recovery Diet – Kick the Beast!

keep-calm-cause-its-time-to-kick-butt

Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the most devastating times in a person’s life.  The shock, denial, the unknown all take its toll alongside the actual cancer and any treatment itself.  This life-changing event can understandably leave you neglecting your diet whilst you struggle to come to terms with your diagnosis and any treatments that are to follow.  However, cancer treatment places a very high demand on the body and good nutritional health before; during and after cancer treatment is important in your overall road to recovery.

Good nutrition will help:

  • Maintain & improve quality of life
  • Help recovery
  • Fight infection
  • Maintain strength & energy
  • Boost your mood
  • Reduce medication/treatment side effects
  • Stabilise hormones

One of the easiest and simple ways to incorporate healthy nutritional foods into your diet is to follow the basic principles of ‘clean eating.’  This simply means:

  • Choosing whole, natural foods
  • Choosing unrefined foods , unprocessed packaged foods
  • Including some protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal – a good balanced meal contains everything you need to fuel your body, promote healthy growth & keep the immune system balanced. Try planning your meals around your chosen vegetables, filling half your plate & eating these first 
  • Watching out for salt and sugar
  • Avoid caffeine & even decaffeinated drinks
  • Eating five to six small meals throughout the day – aim for two decent sized main meals & a few hefty snacks
  • Consider following a more plant-based diet such as Vegetarian or Vegan, which can help lower inflammation in the body.
  • Include some saturated fats! For decades we have been told saturated fats are damaging to our health, however more & more research is now disproving this theory.  So much so the Swedish Government is now encouraging its people to eat more of it.  When you eat saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  When choosing a saturated fat, aim for:
    • Avocado
    • Coconut oil – this is a key saturated fat to add to your lifestyle as it contains many healthy benefits; such as fighting off infections, improving the skin, decreasing heart disease. It also keeps you feeling fuller for longer & helps aid weight loss!
    • Ensure you include only moderately

Ideally we should all aim to eat organically, especially if recovering from cancer.  However for anyone on a tight budget this isn’t always possible.  Try visiting your local farmer’s market where you will often find fresh produce cheaper than at the supermarket, or purchase meats in bulk and portioning them up for the freezer?  Remember, fresh organic produce is FAR more nutritionally dense, meaning not only is it healthier for you, but it takes longer for the body to break down, thus keeping you fuller for longer on smaller portions!  If your budget cannot stretch to organic all the time, then remember many of the tougher fruits and vegetables contain much lower levels of pesticides, but do give them a good clean before using.  Here are some items which are always best to try & spend your organic budget on:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Bell peppers
  • Peaches & nectarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Pears

Most importantly – BE KIND TO YOURSELF!

 

Amy x

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Does Stress Cause Cancer?

stress-word-blurr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all know stress is bad for us.  It makes us feel on edge, become irrational perhaps, affects our sleep and mood, along with causing physical symptoms such as stomach upsets.  But have you ever thought about the damage long-term stress can have on your body?

When stress first occurs, Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is released into the blood from the tiny pituitary gland found at the base of the brain.  When the hormones reach the adrenals (two small glands above the kidneys), it causes their cortex to produce cortisone and other messengers. It’s these adrenal cortex hormones that quickly prepare us to meet the emergency facing us.

Next, protein is drawn away from the thymus and lymph glands and converted into sugar for instant energy, causing a sudden rush in blood sugars. Any other sugars stored in the liver as starch or glycogen can also be instantly converted into energy if needed.  Our blood pressure then increases; minerals are taken from the bones; fat stores are moved; and high amounts of salt are retained.  This is known as the ‘alarm reaction’ and commonly referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response; our bodies are preparing to battle danger or flee from it.

If stress continues past this point, the body attempts to repair itself, often referred to as the ‘stage of resistance.’  However, when stress is continuous over a prolonged period of time, it can make repair extremely difficult, leaving your body a target for disease; such as cancer for example.

Now, we are not saying that stress causes cancer directly.  BUT if cancer rates are increased by physical carcinogens in our environment, sure the psychosocial carcinogens (i.e. stress) must have an impact too?

Dr Paul J. Rosch, M.D., F.A.C.P. President, The American Institute of Stress says; “What determines resistance or susceptibility to cancer? Behavioral factors and inappropriate responses to stress must also be considered along with genetic factors in attempting to understand why some individuals develop cancer.”  Dr Rosch also goes onto say; “Impaired host resistance due to disturbances in immune system function seem to be an important factor.”

So whilst cancer may not be solely attributed to stress alone; it can and does have a very significant effect upon a person’s susceptibility to the disease; the rate in which it progresses; and ultimately the recovery success too.

Finding ways to manage the external stresses thrust upon us is therefore essential in building our resistance to disease.

So, here are some of my top suggestions for keeping a calmer balance to your life:

  • Good balanced nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Laughter
  • Dancing (you know me, any excuse!)
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness thinking
  • Relaxation techniques
  • ‘Tapping’ (aka Emotional Freedom Technique)

 

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 ©