running

Chia + Corn Bars (GF + Vegan)

Because runner’s need fuel.Corn + chia energy bars

We live on a canal, well more on the edge of a canal, on land, not actually in it…..and I love to sit outside just watching and listening to life over on the other side. The footpath across the water is pretty busy and these days the majority of traffic seems to be runners. I reckon a runner flies past every 5 minutes, some huffing and puffing, others lightly gliding and many in groups chatting loudly. I love watching and whenever I see them I alway get a pang of jealousy that it’s not me running along, even if I’ve ran that day! Is this weird? I thought this was a normal feeling that all runner’s experience! I just truly love running, actually we have a love and hate relationship but there’s way more loving than hating.Corn + chia bars with PB + banana!

So these simple corn and chia based bars are a celebration of my morning jog in the form of a pre-run energy boost. Because…….apparently, chia will boost my performance so naturally I’m in. I believe anything plant based will increase both performance and recovery but I do love a good theory and there does seem to be some interesting chia data out there. So, chia seeds = faster running, increased stamina+ quicker recovery times. Good job I love these little treasures.Sliced corn + chia bars

I first read about the running and chia connection in the book ‘Born to Run‘, which runner or not is a fascinating insight into the Tarahumara tribe and the powerful effects of food on performance, specifically chia seeds – a runner’s good friend. The Tarahumara people from northwestern part of Mexico are famous for their impressive  long distance running abilities and chia seeds mainly in a liquid form formed a significant part of their diets. To me this is bigger than ‘running and chia seeds’ but highlights more generally just how powerful food can be and what a radical effect it can have on our performance and day to day wellbeing. It was ‘Born to Run’ that first spiked my interest in chia and how plant food in general could in fact help me perform better – aka, a sub 3 marathon. Shame this was after I’d run a couple of marathons…….but now i’m kinda tempted to run another as part of my plant food effects on running performance curiosity. An experiment of sorts.

Easy process for corn + chia bars

Well maybe but  you don’t need to be a runner to enjoy some good, clean plant powered snackage so in the meantime i’ll enjoy these gluten free, dairy free, chia studded energy bars inspired by No Meat Athlete’s pinole recipe. They have a soft and bendy texture that and holds together well in a chia + corn bar sandwich, definitely good snacking material for when you’re on the go.

Chia + corn bars are the perfect canvas for nut butters, jams, fruit or dipped in sticky syrup. Great as post or pre workout fuel for some light but nutritious energy.

What’s your workout fuel of choice?Corn + chia bar sarnie!

Chia + corn bars

1 cup organic corn meal
1/3 cup chia seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons maple syrup /agave
Water (enough to create an oatmeal consistency)

1. Preheat oven to 175 ºC. Toast the cornmeal for 10 minutes until fragrant. Combine with the chia, salt, cinnamon and maple syrup. Add the water until an oatmeal consistency is achieved.
2. Pour into a greased 8″ x 12″ baking tin and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
3. Slice and store for up to a week. Top with copious amounts of nut butter.

7 Cheers for Chia Seeds – a Weight Loss Weapon

Chia Seeds 5This chia seed craze isn’t going anywhere soon, it’s here to stay. I’ve had many a fleeting affair with the latest in vogue food, some working out and others not. Sorry goji berries, it’s not you, it’s me. With chia it’s different…….I am fully committed to the humble chia seed, it won’t enter my life for a few weeks of dabbling only to be pushed to the back of the cupboard, lonely and forgotten! Chia has a firm place in my kitchen and has made itself very comfortable.

I wasn’t at first convinced when my first bag of chia arrived and as they bounced along my kitchen work top I couldn’t help but think these tiny seeds seemed a bit, well small and fiddly. And anyway, how could such a tiny seed contain so much goodness? So much goodness.

Chia is yet another amazingly nutritious food from the superfood continent South America (quinoa, maca, lucuma, cocoa nibs- why do they have all the best ingredients?). Anyhow, first recipe in I really liked them but I loved them a whole lot more when I learnt about their nutritional attributes and impressive versatility within plant based recipes. Chia doesn’t have a truly distinct flavour  but it has a unique consistency when combined with liquid, providing an excellent base to add your own flavour and experiment with your favourite ingredients. I like to think of chia as a powerhouse nutritional canvas to get creative with! Chia + liquid = very swollen seeds and a consistency that resembles tapioca pudding, all part of it’s secret weight regulating powers.

There’s a whole lot more to these Aztec wonder seeds and there’s very good reason(s) why they’re one of the big players in the realms of wellness. Here’s 7 of them:

  1. High in fibre so excellent for digestive function. Most of us could use more fibre and these contain a third of our daily requirements in just 2 tablespoons. We all know that a fibre rich diet keeps us fuller for longer, enabling us to maintain a healthy weight and beat cravings. These seeds swell to 10 times their original size when combined with water form a gel high in soluble fibre, which fills the stomach and satiates. Naturally, this fuller feeling reduces tendencies to over eat, so chia’s a weapon to any weight loss eating regime.
  2. A remarkable amount of antioxidants. Go away free radicals, ageing and cancer. Such high levels give chia a lengthy shelf life of up to 2 years.
  3. Calcium. Who needs dairy when you can get 1/5 of your daily needs from just 2 tablespoons, 5 times more than milk. These powerhouse seeds also contain sizeable amounts of magnesium and phosphorus.
  4. Good source of Protein. Made up of 30 % complete protein, containing all 9 amino acids in proper ratios,  they certainly give meat products a run for their money!
  5. No Gluten. Enough said.
  6. Brilliant egg replacer for plant based recipes. Mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 of water and leave for 10 minutes to thicken.
  7. One of the richest plant based sources of omega 3’s. In fact it contains 8 times more than salmon so is super for heart and brain health.

Bonus: I find chia helps fight fatigue, keeps me energised for longer and less likely to have late afternoon lethargy. I’m a recreational runner and find I am recovering quicker post exercise. Chia is a runner’s best friend.

So get cracking with an easy, feel good, filling chia pudding, a chia studded smoothie, sprinkle on cereal or make your own egg substitute.
Vanilla chia pudding

Start the day in spectacular fashion by making a yummy chia pudding!

Let’s all chia up!

Spiced Carrot Muffins

Carrot spiced muffin

Do you randomly reminisce about mediocre food you were fond of as a younger you? I do, all the time but come to think of it, I think about any food, all of the time! Of late it’s been the ginger biscuits I made as a kiddo, usually when I was bored or avoiding homework. They were nice but I wonder, were they really that good? I’ve been thinking maybe it’s the nostalgia that makes food seem more appealing than it perhaps was?! In their defence, these ginger biscuits were pretty popular though, my family loved them for a good tea dunking. It’s just that there really wasn’t anything special about them, they were just biscuits. But they were the first biscuit recipe I nailed and gosh was I proud! See, it’s nostalgia. They were bursting with immense gingery goodness, probably because I usually doubled the suggested 1 teaspoon to 2, well 2 1/2 actually!

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to make some gingery baked goods for a while now. I just love ginger with it’s warm, rich, spicy yet sweet flavour provoking memories of a gloriously sticky ginger pudding smothered in creamy pale yellow custard. Even a fiery Thai or Chinese stir fry packed full of ginger just makes you feel warm and comforted. Yes, I think there’s something comforting about ginger and I love that it’s good for us too. In India, ginger is viewed as a complete wonder spice and this is good enough for me (being a huge fan of all things Indian).

I used an overly-heaped teaspoon in the muffin mix because I just love the flavour and it works fantastically with the pineapple, carrot and raisins. In hindsight, these could even take some more – so if you like ginger go for 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons. Definitely a match made in heaven. I’m thinking of making oatmeal with these flavours, kind of like an exotic carrot cake breakfast. I used honey and crushed pineapple to sweeten and to ensure it retained as much moisture as possible, plus I wanted to replicate the moist and sticky ginger puddings I loved so much as a kid.

Step by step

Alongside ginger I used a teaspoon of cinnamon,  another spice I am completely obsessed with. I use  both these exotic spices most days, even just a sprinkle on cereal, toast or porridge. A few years back in the middle of some hefty marathon training  I read that cinnamon is amazing for blood sugar regulation. Obviously, eager to gain a winning edge I started stirring heaps into my breakfasts, popping it into smoothies, sprinkling on honey toast, whisking through pancake batter and adding generously to my curries, North African dishes, well anything really. I swear this carried me through the long hard training and not once did I ‘hit the wall’ as they say in running jabber. Purely psychological? Maybe, but there’s something in it, quite literally. Whenever I google ‘cinnamon benefits’ it never ceases to amaze me (same for ginger) how healing these can be! I’m pretty mindful about generous health claims but the taste, aroma and colour of these spices just make you feel like you’re doing your body a favour.

These muffins are super blood sugar regulators and high in fibre too.  Full of wonderful flavour and texture, these muffins are an acceptable breakfast snack and even a worthy pudding contender – with a scoop of ice cream or  a dollop of custard. Are you sold yet?

Carrot spiced muffin
Sticky, sweet, spiced & fruity

What was the first recipe you mastered as a kid (or adult for that matter!)?

Spiced Carrot Muffins

(makes 10-12)

1 1/2 cups of wholemeal self raising flour
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
small handful of crushed walnuts
small handful of raisins
2 tablespoons of honey
1 cup of shredded carrot
1 cup of crushed pineapple
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg

Method:

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together and combine well. Add the walnuts, raisins and carrot.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients and mix just enough to fully combine.
  3. Place in 10-12 muffin cases and sprinkle with oats.
  4. Bake at 175 ºC for 25 minutes.

Bake for 25 minutes at 175 °C.