BLUEBERRY MUFFIN BAKED PORRIDGE POTS

A muffin for breakfast with a delicious twist!

For a while I have been mentioning my favourite recipes on Instagram, and I am finally playing catch-up and starting to post them, as promised. When I posed the question yesterday, “Which of my baked porridge recipes would you like to see next?”, the winner – by Instagram comment vote – was Blueberry Muffin.

So here it is… (but rest assured, the others will follow shortly! ;) )…

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BLUEBERRY MUFFIN BAKED PORRIDGE POTS

Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS

250 ml gluten-free oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
150 ml frozen organic blueberries
50 ml coconut milk
150 ml almond milk
1-2 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup (optional)
2 heaped tbsp fresh blueberries
50 ml pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (fan) and lightly grease 2 large ramekins/oven safe jars (mine hold 350 ml each) with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix oats, spices, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add wet ingredients – minus blueberries – and mix to combine well.
  4. Gently fold the frozen blueberries into the porridge mix (you want pretty, jammy pockets of blueberries to form as the porridge muffin bakes).
  5. Spoon porridge mixture into ramekins/jars, stud with fresh blueberries and top with chopped pistachios.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on desired consistency (a longer baking time will produce a firmer set).
  7. Let stand for a few minutes (the ramekins/jars will be very hot at first), then pour over a little almond milk and/or coconut cream, if you like. They can also be kept covered in the fridge (after cooling) for at least 3 days, and make a wonderful, portable breakfast treat served just as they are… Picnic, anyone? ;)

 

* If you like this recipe, check out the one it is based on; my Sweet Potato Pie Baked Porridge Pots!

I QUIT SUGAR 8-WEEK PROGRAM, ROUND 3 (Clean Week and beyond in review)

It has now been a few weeks since the last round (my third) of the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program wrapped up, and although there where similarities between this round and previous ones I have participated in, on a personal note, some new things certainly came to light.

As always, the recipes were wonderful and the food on point. So let’s start there! :)

WHAT I ATE

If everyone found quitting sugar a breeze, there’d be no need for the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program. Quitting sugar doesn’t have to be about white-knuckling your way through the day and heaping guilt on yourself if you trip up along the way, yet most people seem to be unarmed with the knowledge, support or resources to find the process easy. It isn’t just the coping with potential detox symptoms, it’s knowing what to eat in order to remain satiated, being prepared food-wise in order to avoid making bad choices, reprogramming your taste buds and discovering new ways to enjoy food so that your health reboot lasts beyond a detox and becomes a lifestyle choice with a modicum of longevity. This is where the 8WP excels, in my opinion. The food is not only good (as in, tasty and nutritionally balanced), but exciting. Participants look forward to seeing what’s in store for the week ahead. If you’re like me (i.e., time-poor!), you’ll find the Sunday Cook-Ups a godsend, and the introduction to new dishes and ways of thinking about food provides inspiration long after the program is over.

The images above illustrate only a small selection of what the second half of the 8WP weekly meal plans had on offer. I became rather unadventurous when it came to breakfasts, finding I loved the Make-Me-Over Mojito Smoothie so much that it became kind of a staple from Clean Week onwards.

I have been asked a few times whether it is difficult to undertake the program when based in the Northern Hemisphere (as the program is designed and based in Australia). The short answer is no. By swapping out the couple of things I could not find (due to issues of seasonality), I was able to come up with equally as tasty variations of the original IQS recipes (see Lentil, Quinoa & Blackberry Salad above). The meals are fresh yet satisfying and there are lots of hearty options and lighter meals. So really, something to suit all climates… even the brutal subzero ones like we experience during winter!

This last phase of the 8WP introduced me to some of my favourite IQS dishes yet, including The Ultimate Salad, which I can honestly say is one of the only salads I have ever tried that I have cravings for when I think about it. And I love salads!

To see more detail about some of the other dishes featured in this phase of the program (for the vegetarian version of the IQS8WP), click on the images in the montage above. And do note that for every new round of the program they like to shake things up, adding between around 30-60% new recipes, plus new features and program-exclusive bonus content (like free recipes, videos, etc.).

HOW I FELT

When I left you with my last 8WP update, I was feeling rather challenged and exhausted. A string of winter illnesses, over-analysis about said illnesses and being unable to continue running on my own proverbial “performance treadmill”, had led me to a point of surrender… and a simultaneous willingness to embark upon the Clean Week journey wholeheartedly.

In part I approached Clean Week with such enthusiasm because I was hoping for an answer, health-wise. I hoped that being caffeine-free (which I’d already been since the commencement of the 8WP), gluten-free and sugar-free all at once would “fix” my apparently shoddy immunity. I had spent much of this round of the 8WP wondering why my healthy lifestyle choices were unable to prevent me from coming down with repeated common colds and similar ailments. What was wrong with me that meant that, while some so-called social media wellness gurus were purportedly “curing” themselves of terminal illness via diet*, I couldn’t manage to ward off a simple cold?

Was I falling ill on a regular basis because I was a Rushing Woman? Was it because I didn’t love myself enough? Was there something more sinister and serious going on for me health-wise? Or was I simply stuck in some kind of health-related analysis paralysis… over nothing bigger than a combination of Swedish winter + returning to the workforce + a particularly bad cold/flu season + having small children in nursery school? I saw three GPs and had several tests done, including blood work, during the course of the 8WP in search of an answer*, not because I am a hypochondriac, but simply because at worst it was worrisome, and at best it was annoyingly disruptive to every area of my life; from my ability to work, to my ability to work out!

In the midst of it all – all the soul-searching, all the questioning, all the detoxing – something(s) happened and the “wellness world” was rocked by a series of incidences. I am truly surprised by how affected I was by it all. There are two posts written by me about the very subject, currently sitting unedited in my drafts folder; a testament to the head miles I did about this. At the time, I had just begun to give myself a very hard time about the state of my health, feeling (strangely) guilty that I wasn’t in perfect health 100% of the time, despite my best efforts to live well. I felt as though I was failing.

But then I stopped playing that tape.

It was clear that I had really been taking some things at face value. I was reminded yet again of the need to avoid judging my insides by other people’s outsides. Things are not always as they seem… and, sadly, via social media lies can be sold by the unscrupulous.

Around Clean Week, I was starting to question being honest about my everyday “garden variety” health concerns. To be more specific, I questioned whether posting an image of a healthy, tasty looking meal I’d eaten, simultaneously adding in the caption that I’d come down with fever, would be “inspirational” to others. Maybe not. But my health journey is about me and, when I shared such stuff, it was my reality- inspirational or not. I was eating well, no doubt, and certain aspects of that were definitely health-affirming, yet my immunity this winter was not great. It’s a disappointing fact. And sharing about the status of my health with integrity compels me to include both the ups and the inevitable downs. When time allowed I was able to participate in the 8WP forums. Here too I wanted to be honest about what was going on for me whilst supporting others, but I worried at times that I simply could not participate in the manner I could/would have, had I been in a perfect state of health with an abundance of energy. That, in conjunction with my inability to be as “present” and productive in my work life and at home as I like to be, was beyond frustrating.

Meanwhile, the media continued to reveal an untangling of various webs of wellness lies. The gravity of the impact those lies has had cannot fully be known but, personally, I was struck with a sense of incredible gratitude that I had chosen a path to explore that was founded in a healthy, balanced approach to eating… and one that had been forged from a genuine wellness journey! I started to become grateful too that I had chosen to communicate “my stuff” honestly, and that I freely shared recipes/the things that inspire me/the things I have tried as a “non-professional”… placing, for example, my Facebook page in the personal blog category rather than that of a health/wellness website***.

And so I continued on my way, sticking with the 8-Week Program to the best of my ability. I cut back on hot yoga and running, as I found my glands would start to swell within a day or two of undertaking either. I incorporated things such as oil pulling and herbal infusions into my daily regime. I implemented a 10pm bedtime curfew for myself. I went through all my cosmetic and toiletries products and started to swap out the non-organic ones for organic where possible (I already tried to buy organic alternatives but wanted to take things up a notch). In many respects, this Clean Week was the most successful of the three I have done, even if it wasn’t the immunity boosting quick fix I had hoped it would be. For me, it went beyond quitting sugar.

My winter illnesses had prevented me from consistent exercise. As soon as I’d seemingly fully recovered from a cold/fever, I’d hit the gym. Usually within 48 hours I’d feel under the weather again. Days of inactivity (even time off work + bed rest) would go by to allow for rest and recovery, then the same cycle would kick off. It was a source of immense frustration, worry and even distress at times. The last thing you want during the extremely low-energy, dark and freezing winter months in Scandinavia is to have to eliminate one of your primary sources of energy and vitality… especially whilst undertaking a health reset! I put on weight as a result of the inability to accomplish what my body was used to doing (which normally includes engaging in some kind of physical activity most days of the week as opposed to lying in bed for days at a time!). I can only count my blessings that, due to the 8WP, things were pretty good in the ol’ food department! Some kind of counter-balance!

Luckily, those days of inactivity seem to be behind me, and I am back to daily movement of some form or another (yoga and walking mostly), which is far more in line with the IQS8WP Movement Plan that I had hoped to follow! Things are balancing out again. *Happy dancing!*

And that brings me to…

MOVING ON

Good news. According to my regular doctor, essentially all seems fine with me health-wise. My thyroid condition is stable, for example. It is her belief that it really was just a matter of bad luck that I was unwell during the winter, and “nothing unusual” (she said she was seeing patients on a daily basis with the same issues I was having, and all had small children). Interestingly, a couple of weeks after the program ended, I developed tonsillitis for which I took a course of antibiotics. I have not been sick since that time. Could it be that, during the winter, my body was in a constant state of trying to fight infection (hence the swollen glands and lapses into illness after exercise)? I will ask my doctor when I meet her next but, if so, it seems that my lifestyle choices were probably helping to support and maintain me far more that I realised.

Since the program ended, I have continued to cook recipes from the 8WP, develop my own recipes based around IQS principles, and have also gotten stuck into the new I Quit Sugar book, Healthy Family Meals, which truly contains some of the best IQS recipes I have tried. My family has loved them too which, no doubt, is the whole point of the book! One of the best things about family friendly recipe books is that we can allow the kids to choose what to make and then let them help us in the kitchen.

If there’s a sure-fire way to get my kids eating well, it’s to allow them to experience the pride and satisfaction of making something themselves. There’s no way they wont try something they’ve helped to create!

Although I am not sure what has caused recent flare-ups of hormonal issues (my cycle has been all over the place, for example), eating well is certainly not going to harm me and, as I have experienced, can actually relieve the unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, cramping and wild mood-swings.

On a very positive note, I feel like my mojo has returned along with sunnier Swedish days. I am finding a more workable balance of things home/work/food/exercise-related and generally feeling happier, more positive, energised and inspired. For the past week or more I have managed to maintain a daily yoga and squat practice. I have been cooking with enthusiasm and eating heartily.

MORE TO LOVE

It feels good to make informed choices, it feels good to cook and eat real food, it feels great to not be a slave to sugar… and it also feels fine to eat it in some fashion – without guilt – moderately and occasionally. I am forever grateful for the experience and education I have received as a participant in the IQS8WP, and the journey of self-discovery it has taken me on. My knowledge of IQS principles is something that remains with me, no matter what I cook at home or choose to buy when I am out and about. As Sarah Wilson says, “You can’t unlearn this stuff”!

Unlike some wellness programs, IQS is largely a common-sense approach to eating real food and the program is developed with/supported by certified health and nutrition professionals. It’s about cutting back on junk (like sugar, of course), reprogramming your taste buds, getting organised in the home/kitchen and getting back to food basics (e.g. cooking and eating fresh produce). The JERF (“Just Eat Real Food”) principle is the base of a dietary approach that is sustainable long-term, and is what our bodies are designed to do (as opposed to follow starvation, “quick fix”-style regimes).

IQS is not a miracle “cure-all” diet****, nor does it claim to be, although some people certainly experience dramatic, positive health benefits as a result of following it. At the very least, following the program will help break a sugar addiction and improve energy levels naturally (why I signed up for my first round).

There may be some people whose particular lifestyle choices/dietary issues are incompatible with the mainstream IQS approach (which was developed originally to suit omnivores and dairy eaters), but IQS is very adaptable and certainly far more inclusive than other programs, as I have found myself (as a vegetarian with a vegan husband and omnivorous children!). The IQS community is a very supportive one, where information and inspiration is freely shared by professionals and participants alike, and kind encouragement is easy to find, should you need it.

A new round of the IQS8WP is starting on June 4. If you have any questions about it, from a participant point of view, feel free to drop me a line. Otherwise, you can check it out for yourself if you’re interested.

<3 MM xx


*Not true, it turns out.

**Since the completion of the 8WP I have undergone a full physical (including more blood work) at a medical centre here and expect the results within a couple of weeks.

***If/when I have a qualification that allows me to change this in good conscience or I collaborate with a qualified health practitioner, I might redefine things… but definitely not until such a time.

****I was so relieved to read this post by Sarah Wilson on the subject of diet, disease and responsibility. Thank you for being one of the few notable wellness figures brave and honest enough to speak up on the matter, Sarah! 

SWEET POTATO PIE BAKED PORRIDGE POTS (Happy Food Revolution Day, 2015!)

Yes, it’s Food Revolution Day, 2015. And rather than host an activity as I have done in previous years, this year I decided to simply cook with my family, getting the kids involved (they love helping in the kitchen!) and, in the spirit of the day, popping on a couple of Jamie’s Food Tube videos and an episode of MasterChef Australia to watch. And, of course, we signed the petition to show support for compulsory practical food education in schools worldwide. As I type this, Jamie is 181,501 signatures away from reaching his goal of 1.5 million! So if you think that a happy, healthy life and good nutrition should be a right for every child, you might want to consider spending 30 seconds to sign the petition too.

And so, to our breakfast today…
Let it be known, I am rather obsessed with porridge. And I have a major thing for sweet potatoes (in case you hadn’t noticed!). If you are likewise a fan of oats and sweet potatoes, this recipe is surely everything you could want in a nourishing breakfast; think something akin to a combination of sweet potato pie, a bowl of creamy oatmeal and a spiced muffin, fresh from the oven.

No, I am not kidding.

MissMarzipan_sweetpotatopie_baked_porridge1

The recipe is rather similar to an apple and oat muffin recipe I first started making waaay back in 2004 . The main differences between this recipe and that one, are that back then I used a natural muesli (containing raisins), plus some oil for moisture and eggs for rise. These baked porridge pots, on the other hand, are gluten-free, oil-free, egg-free and fruit-free (for those minding their fructose intake).

The most important thing to me (and my kids), however, is that they are darn delicious… and filling, satisfying, warm and comforting… I could go on!

There is plenty here for little ones to get involved with prep-wise, from the measuring of dry ingredients to the mashing of sweet potato. Actually, I am not sure what my kids liked more, the process or the end result.
MissMarzipan_sweetpotatopie_baked_porridge2

SWEET POTATO PIE BAKED PORRIDGE POTS

Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS

250 ml gluten-free oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
150 ml (1 small-medium) sweet potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
50 ml coconut milk
150 ml almond milk
1-2 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup (optional)
50 ml chopped pecan nuts

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (fan) and lightly grease 2 large ramekins (mine hold 350 ml each) with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix oats, spices, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add wet ingredients and mix to combine well.
  4. Spoon porridge mixture into ramekins and top with chopped pecans.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on desired consistency (a longer baking time will produce a firmer set).
  6. Let stand for a few minutes (the ramekins will be very hot at first), then pour over a little almond milk and/or coconut cream and finish with a sprinkle extra cinnamon, if you like.

MissMarzipan_sweetpotatopie_baked_porridge3

MissMarzipan_sweetpotatopie_baked_porridge4


*Note: I started writing this post on the morning of May 15 (FRD), but didn’t get around to posting until 12:11am on the 16th, so not technically on FRD
;)

DUKKAH CRUSTED CHUNKY SWEET POTATO FRIES & TAHINI DIPPING SAUCE WITH ROASTED GARLIC

This combination of two simple, but utterly delicious sides, is sure to please.

Talented Elaine of Foodbod fame is a woman after my own heart. And so, when she asked me what I would feed her, this recipe I created with the intention of sharing around the start of the year (where has 2015 gone?) sprang to mind.

Sweet potatoes should have their own step on the food pyramid, imo. I truly love them that much. And anything spice-related likewise ticks major boxes for me.

The simple chunky fries recipe is the amalgamation of a variant of a hastily-thrown-together dukkah recipe (strangely, I have not found ready-made dukkah here in Stockholm!) and one for my beloved sweet potato fries.

The Tahini Dipping sauce makes a tasty, creamy, vegan alternative to aioli or the like and a legume-free alternative to hummus… So for any Paleo-style eaters out there, this is something for you too.  It is adjustable depending on whether you want a spread, dip or drizzle consistency. And if you like falafel, these simple dishes, with an accompanying green salad, make for the most perfect sides.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Dukkah Crusted Chunky Sweet Potato Fries and Tahini Dipping Sauce with Roasted Garlic

Smaklig måltid, as we say in Sweden!

And do check out lovely Elaine’s amazing veg creations and fab variety of “What would you feed me?” guest posts… it’s truly amazing how versatile plants can be in the kitchen!

Marisa (AKA Miss Marzipan) xx

DUKKAH CRUSTED CHUNKY SWEET POTATO FRIES
& TAHINI DIPPING SAUCE WITH ROASTED GARLIC

MissMarzipan_dukkah_fries_falafel_smlMissMarzipan_dukkah_fries_dinner_spread_sml

DUKKAH CRUSTED CHUNKY SWEET POTATO FRIES

INGREDIENTS

1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp white sesame seeds
2 tsp black sesame seeds
4 tsp pepita and/or sunflower seeds to scatter over
3-4 sweet potatoes, cut into rustic, chunky chips/wedges (see images below)
2 tbsp melted coconut oil/olive oil
At least 1 whole, unpeeled garlic clove for roasting (for the dipping sauce)
Salt and pepper to season

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 190° C (fan) and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Crush cumin and fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle.
  3. Pop crushed seeds into a small bowl with the sesame seeds.
  4. Place the potato wedges in a large bowl, drizzle over oil and toss potatoes to coat with the oil. Sprinkle over the seed and spice mix and toss gently to coat.
  5. Place the coated potato wedges and unpeeled garlic clove (roast extra for later if you like) on the baking tray. Scatter over pepitas and/or sunflower seeds.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until seeds are nicely toasted and potato wedges are baked. I don’t turn them during baking (lazy!), but you can if you like.
  7. Serve hot, with Tahini Dipping Sauce with Roasted Garlic to accompany.

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TAHINI DIPPING SAUCE WITH ROASTED GARLIC

INGREDIENTS

75 ml tahini
75 ml lemon juice
2 tbsp melted coconut oil/olive oil
75 – 125 ml water (to achieve desired consistency)
1 roasted garlic clove (that was roasted along with your sweet potato fries- easy!)
A pinch of salt
A couple of tsp of chopped fresh herbs to garnish (parsley and chives work well)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its peel and pulse a food processor, together with tahini, lemon juice, oil, salt and 75 ml of water. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, to achieve the consistency you want.
  2. When smooth and of the desired consistency, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle over fresh herbs. Serve with Dukkah Crusted Chunky Sweet Potato Fries/falafel/on sandwiches as a spread, etc.

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PEANUT BUTTER, BANANA & CHOCOLATE CHIP WAFFLES (vegan, gluten-free, IQS-friendly)

For Cupcake’s 2nd birthday party “waffle bar”, I created a banoffee waffle recipe and, in the process, discovered the perfect way to use up that odd soon-to-be-overripe sad, lone banana sitting oft to be found on the kitchen countertop. I have yet to share that recipe (which is one of my all-time favourites!), but on the 25th of March we celebrated Våffeldagen (Swedish Waffle Day), and I would be remiss not to share this delicious new recipe, based upon my banoffee waffle one.

Inspired by a request from little L, these waffles combine chocolate, peanut butter and banana… all in a vegan, gluten-free, IQS-friendly* form, with a gorgeous crunchy, golden exterior!

And in case you’re wondering why Swedes celebrate Våffeldagen, the 25th of March is Vårfrudagen (in the “common tongue”) and apparently the name morphed into the somewhat similar sounding “Våffeldagen”, thereby giving Swedes a perfect excuse to pig out on waffles on this day. Any reason to eat waffles though, right?

… But when they are this delicious and surprisingly healthy, you don’t even need an excuse!

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PEANUT BUTTER, BANANA & CHOCOLATE CHIP WAFFLES

Makes: 6 waffles, Prep time: 10 mins 

INGREDIENTS 

50 ml water
1 tbsp chia seeds
95 g gluten-free oats, pulsed in a blender to make oat flour (of bread crumb texture)
360 ml almond milk
125 g gluten-free plain flour blend
60 ml organic crunchy, sugar-free peanut butter
30 ml coconut oil, melted
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp maca powder
15 ml rice malt syrup (or maple)
40 g chopped dark vegan chocolate or chocolate chips
1/3 of a banana, mashed (the rest reserved and thinly sliced for topping)
A pinch of salt

ADDITIONAL TOPPINGS

1 large square dark vegan chocolate chopped/grated
Remaining banana, sliced
Salted peanuts, roughly chopped
Whipped coconut cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your waffle iron.
  2. Combine chia seeds and water together in a small bowl to make a “chia egg”.
  3. In another small bowl combine mashed banana rice malt syrup, coconut oil and peanut butter.
  4. Pulse oats in a blender to create oat flour. Add “chia egg”, mashed banana mix, almond milk, gluten-free plain flour, baking powder, vanilla powder, maca powder and salt to oat flour. Stir until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Throw in the chocolate and stir through to distribute.
  6. Ladle the batter into preheated waffle iron, greased with a little oil of choice (coconut is excellent). Cook the waffles until golden and crisp (this took around 4 minutes in my waffle iron).
  7. Serve immediately, topped with a dollop of whipped coconut cream (or ice-cream of choice), a few slices of banana and a sprinkle of chopped peanuts and chocolate.

 

*With just 1/6 of a banana per serve.
**Waffle irons vary in size and design, so you may want to make a “test waffle” to ensure the volume of batter you use to make each one is correct. To produce 1 waffle in my waffle iron, I used approximately 120 ml of batter.

HEALTHY MALTED HOT CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKE (plus iced chocolate variant)

Two things led directly to the creation of this recipe; a snow storm a few weeks ago (who doesn’t want hot chocolate after being caught in one of those?) and my recent kitchen experiments with immunity boosting “superfoods”, such as maca.

This drink is not actually malted at all, but rather gets it’s malty, caramel-y tones from maca powder. Used by some for enhancing energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory and fertility, maca is believed to have a positive impact on female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems and the immune system. If claims are true, maca is just what I need!

This hot chocolate milkshake is made with a very quick and simple chocolate sauce; the same kind that I also use on pancakes, waffles and ice-cream. You can play with the ratios of sweetener to cacao and coconut oil to suit your taste, but the basic formula below works for many purposes.

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HEALTHY MALTED HOT CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKE

Serves 2

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE

30 ml organic cacao powder
20 ml organic rice malt syrup (or maple syrup)
15-20 ml organic coconut oil (depending on desired consistency)
1/4 tsp organic vanilla powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all chocolate sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until coconut oil has melted and everything is well combined.*

TO MAKE THE HOT CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKE

2 tsp maca powder
500 ml milk of choice (almond or oat milk work fabulously)
30-40 ml of chocolate fudge sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine vegan milk of choice with chocolate fudge sauce (to taste) and maca. Stir and heat through to desired temperature but do not allow to boil.
  2. When the milk mixture is hot, this is where your handheld stick blender comes in. Remove the saucepan from the heat and give your hot chocolate a good whizz with your stick blender. The mix should emulsify completely and a lovely, bubbly milkshake foam should form. Divide drink between two glasses/cups and serve immediately.

 

If a Malted Iced Chocolate Milkshake suits your climate better (you lucky thing!), allow the chocolate milk to cool in the saucepan after blitzing, then give it another quick whizz with your handheld mixer immediately prior to serving, dividing mix between two glasses and popping in a couple of ice cubes, if you like.

Happy days!
<3 MM xx

*Store any leftover chocolate fudge sauce in a small glass/bowl, covered, for up to a couple of weeks in the fridge. It can be gently reheated (stir well!) before use as a topping for your favourite treat. 

I QUIT SUGAR 8-WEEK PROGRAM, ROUND 3 (the first 3 weeks in review)

This is my third time around, doing sugar-free the IQS way. As always, it’s a fascinating (and delicious) process. And already significant health-related revelations have come to light, which I will delve into later.

But I’ll start with the food. No doubt the best place to start…

WHAT I HAVE BEEN EATING

Week 1 arrived and the program kicked off with one of the most talked about and documented recipes of the 8WP thus far, the game-changing Gluten-Free Buckwheat Loaf. It was closely followed by one of the prettiest 8WP dishes, perhaps, the Quinoa and Chia Breakfast Pot; proof that you can do IQS and eat fruit! Chilli + Lime Kebabs with Herb Quinoa, another classic IQS favourite, are so easy to prepare; a perfect combination of a few simple ingredients. And lest we forget the epic Pumpkin Pizza (I made mine sans cheese and with basil in place of sage); delicious star of every IQSer’s Instagram gallery!

Week 2 introduced me to some of my new favourite recipes. I can’t sing the praises of the Spiced Coco-Nutty Breakfast Muffins enough. They are simply delicious. And have not even a pinch of sweetener of any kind added (although you wouldn’t know it). My little boy loved them too. Just after Week 2 began, we headed off on a road trip to the ski fields of Åre, and these gorgeous IQS muffins saved me during the 8-hour drive. As it was -15°C, I was able to keep remaining muffins in the car, frozen, until we moved on again! I prepped the Curried Lentil Patties with Minted Yogurt and the Curried Vegetable Empanadas (mine morphed into spring rolls, but they were still delicious) as part of my Sunday cook-up for Week 2. When we returned home, exhausted after 8 hours of car travel, this was the meal that welcomed me. I could have cried! Literally. I loved it so much and it was exactly what I needed both physically and emotionally! The following day was my Cupcake’s 2nd birthday party, so amidst unpacking, laundry, setting up, cooking, hosting the party and celebrating my little miracle, there was no time for my weekly cook-up.

Week 3 began and my life looked chaotic, but thanks to the generous portion sizes of 8WP meals, I had enough leftovers in the freezer to largely carry me through the rest of the week! A particularly good thing, as my health took a nose dive on the Tuesday of Week 3, and I came down with a nasty cold, from which I am still recovering. One of my favourite meals was the revisited Quick Moroccan Chick-Pea Stew. And the Coco-Nutty Granola and Kale, Sweet Potato & Feta Frittata are what I would consider IQS classics. You simply can’t go wrong with them (I think most IQSers would agree)!

Our Valentine’s Day was spent at home, without plans. And I can’t tell you what an absolute gift and luxury that was for me!
Don’t buy me presents, just let me sleep in and I’ll love you forever! ;)

I made Lingonberry Chocolate Truffles for my husband, modifying the amazing (and easy) Espresso Truffle recipe from I Quit Sugar’s The Chocolate Cookbook Volume II and using Finnberry wild lingonberry powder (in place of coffee).
If anyone would like it, I am happy to share the modifications I made, but for the fabulous original recipe (these truffles take minutes to make!), head here to receive it as a free gift. I want to add quickly that I am truly honoured to have one of my own recipes featured amongst the bunch in The Chocolate Cookbook Volume II; my first recipe featured in book form! If you love to make desserts (as I do) and you are afraid that going sugar-free means depriving yourself, fear not! Check this book out! Oh, and I did try the truffles, even though anything with any form of sweetener (including berries or rms) is technically out at this recalibration stage of the program*.

I started my cook-up on Saturday evening, beginning with the Basil and Spinach Pesto. I chose to make the Paleo Veggie Bread from the previous round as I am determined to have a nutritious gluten-free loaf on hand at all times. It’s just too easy for me otherwise to reach for sour dough (albeit one of the better, IQS-approved breads) and peanut butter… truckloads of peanut butter!

MissMarzipan_IQS8WP3_basil_spinach_pesto

HOW I HAVE BEEN FEELING

I approached Week 1 with the same enthusiasm I have had in previous rounds. Others new to the IQS community (and those returning to do another 8WP), seemed particularly enthusiastic this round. I am not big on New Year’s resolutions myself, but I am sure quite a few people would have signed up for this round in order to kick-start a healthy 2015… which is not a bad idea at all! Of course it is wonderfully motivating to be part of a community of enthusiastic, empathic and super-supportive people, which undoubtedly one of the major advantages IQS has over other lifestyle programs.

Week 2 revolved largely around our trip to the north of Sweden. The trip started, after a day at work, with an incredible amount of stress due to a) two separate car accidents taking place in front of us on the way out of the city and resulting traffic insanity b) our car breaking down north of Stockholm resulting in the emergency hiring of another car c) snow storms + poor visibility + trucks everywhere d) being delayed by all this malarkey by around 3 hours, despite leaving the city in good time.

Food-wise, there were the usual challenges, namely a lack of cooking facilities. I managed to find a café/bistro in Åre (Café Torget), that offers organic, vegetarian and locally produced options, as well as some of the usual Swedish suspects. I had a variation on an abundance bowl, with quinoa and loads of veg. They were also playing The Smiths when we arrived, and thus made a favourable impression off the bat. ;)

Our lovely hotel (Holiday Club Åre) featured a generous buffet breakfast spread (Sweden rocks for such stuff) and I was able to load up for the day on all the IQS-friendly choices (oats, yogurt, eggs, vegetables, sourdough bread, herbal tea, etc.). The hotel was well-equipped with a gym, lovely swimming pool complex and even a “Sauna World” where every sauna known to man was showcased, including an “ice sauna” which, after coming from -15°C outside the hotel, I found it rather unnecessary to try! I would have loved to go to the beauty salon for something or other of a pampering nature, but I am not a multimillionaire (the prices were STEEP!). The children took turns skiing and sledding with their father and grandparents, and in fine winter sports-challenged Aussie style, I spent most of my time bathing with whichever child was not up on the ski slope. The drive back was not as long and not quite as stressful, but panic set in when we arrived home in the evening and realised how much there was to do before my daughter’s birthday party and the working week!

Week 3 was mostly about stress in my personal life… and illness… leading to more stress. Fortuitously I was able to spend some time catching up on missed presentations for The Female Hormone Solution, which helped shed light on possible solutions to the very issues I was going through.

We are now approaching Week 4, and for the first time in 3 rounds of doing the IQS8WP, my excitement about embracing “Clean Week” is greater than any nervousness I feel about it. Let me explain why.

A few weeks ago I underwent a rather painful and unpleasant aspiration of a lump discovered in my neck. Thankfully the results proved it was benign, but the hospital doctors suggested it was caused by a lymphatic issue. I am awaiting further testing. The problem is that, in conjunction with the appearance of this lump, my immunity seems to have been seriously compromised, to the point whereby every small sniffle, every cold, every fever that my children come down with (a normal result of early childhood/playdates/nursery school), I am also getting. And each one is knocking me down. This winter has not been particularly kind to me health-wise, and I don’t know if I can or will ever completely acclimatise to months of darkness and below freezing temperatures.

Since becoming a “responsible adult”, I have always attempted to forge ahead despite illness. This has been the first time since I became a career woman (other than during my pregnancies) that I have allowed myself to take the sick days I actually need when I am sick, even if the illnesses have come inconveniently back-to-back.

A little voice tells me I could somehow sully my own reputation as a hardworking and capable woman/employee, but I try to ignore it and allow myself the rest anyway. I know things will get worse if I don’t. Sometimes I feel like I am close to experiencing anxiety over the stress and expectation I burden myself with. I don’t know how to completely let it go. I never have. I have a mental to-do list that never get shortened, merely added to as soon as one thing is checked off. I have 2 careers, 2 small children and a husband. I work, I train, I cook from scratch, I socialise IRL (though less these days) and online, I attempt to keep myself available via many channels, I plan… and plan. I stop when I am asleep (and I don’t sleep enough). And so it seems that I am really picking up this program where the last one left off.

I strive to do it all, and to be the best version of me that I can be whilst I am doing it all. I no doubt suffer from what Dr Libby refers to as “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome”**… and the combination of that and my ongoing hormonal imbalance and thyroid issues are a bad combination. Sarah Wilson talks often and openly about her struggles with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, the challenges which led her to create the I Quit Sugar movement in the first place. Her posts on the subject have been eye-opening and I have been able to see myself in many of the things she has mentioned.

For the past few weeks, at regular yet random intervals, the words “You can have it all, but not at the same time” have popped into my head. My body is not only trying to tell me something, clearly I am trying to tell me something!

In order to better keep track of things, I am starting to diarise my symptoms and things of note in my daily routines (such as whether I slept well, trained or ate foods containing gluten). Clean Week affords me the opportunity to be gluten-free, caffeine-free and sugar-free all at oncewith support from I Quit Sugar experts (including Body Be Well‘s Diana Tencic) and a community of people attempting to do the same thing I am.

After doing the IQS8WP two times already, I know from experience the difference between consuming sugar and being sugar-free. I have been caffeine-free before for long periods (leading up to and during both my pregnancies) so, as much as I love the taste of coffee, I can live without it. Gluten-free is something that I have experimented with, but never wholeheartedly embraced as, with no known gluten sensitivity issue, I haven’t deemed it necessary to cut it out completely. I am, however, curious to see how doing so may or many not affect my ongoing health issues. So this coming week will be an exciting health experiment.

WHAT I AM LOVING

  • The continued journey of self-discovery on the health and wellness front
  • The incredible motivation I feel to “live well”
  • That my husband’s tastes have also recalibrated somehow (things taste sweeter to him than they used to)
  • That my children are continuing to learn more about food and nutrition and, when they are not helping me in the kitchen (or eating!), they love making up dishes using felt toy ingredients and their wooden play kitchen
  • The suspicion that things I will come to learn this round of the program will make a huge impact on my life moving forward (that’s based on a gut feeling)
  • As always, the camaraderie and support
  • As always, the amazing recipes (it truly is incredible how many new ones there are this round… and how much I love them!)

 

If you want to know more about my IQS journey, you can connect with me here:

Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest
Twitter (yes, I caved)

 

*Naughty Miss Marzipan!
**After drafting this post I took Dr. Libby’s quiz and, unsurprisingly, I scored off the charts. I am officially a Rushing Woman :P

THE FEMALE HORMONE SOLUTION

A few weeks ago I signed up for the The Female Hormone Solution, hosted by Dave and Cam of The RAW Health Movement. We have now officially reached the completion of this free 10-day event that has featured hormonal health advice from 30 experts across different fields (6 videos posted every 48 hours). The good news is that an “Encore Day” has been announced… so read on if you’re interested in finding out more!

Hormonal health in general is of great interest to me, and has been ever since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism* in 2009 after a miscarriage and series of fertility-related tests conducted at a clinic here in Stockholm.

I have been consciously riding the hormonal roller-coaster since 2008 and unconsciously doing so long before then. I realise more each day how amazing my body is, how “kind” it has been to me and how I can improve every single area of my life by taking care of my health above all else. Forums such as this provide extra motivation for me to do so… and an absolute wealth of information too!

I missed a few days of The Female Hormone Solution due to a family trip to the ski fields of Åre (which I heartily recommend, even if you’re winter sports-challenged as I am!), but have tried to catch up on my viewing, and today I had the pleasure of listening to amazing Therese Kerr, whose talk about chemical toxicity in non-organic cosmetic products was a real eye-opener.

On her website page Educated, Empowered and Chemical-Free, Therese prefaces her program summary by posing this question:
“Did you know that on average, most women put a minimum of 250 chemicals on their skin every day and that 60 to 70% of everything WE put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream and our organs?”

Eek!

Eek x 250, in fact!

Her talk was essentially an elaboration on this point. She shared her own health story and talked briefly about her background, business ventures and family (her daughter is gorgeous Miranda Kerr). She discussed her motivations for going organic and various research papers/studies that have proved links between chemical bombardment (particularly in the form of cosmetic products) and hormonal issues and diseases. When she stated that “… the very thing that women think is making them more feminine, is the very thing that is costing them their femininity”, it really hit home.

We currently buy organic, paraben-free shampoo, conditioner and body wash. My foundation is organic, fair-trade and vegan. Our household cleaning products are either homemade (by me) or certified eco and CO2-neutral. However, we have a long way to go to becoming chemical-free, and Therese’s talk was truly motivational.

In fact, despite working in the cosmetics industry myself (albeit for a company with an organic line of products and good ethical policies) and despite years of coveting and amassing all manner of cosmetic and fragrance products (from novel to high-end), I felt compelled to turn out my make-up bag and strip my bathroom cupboards bare in order to weed out “the nasties”.

My thriftiness holds me back, somewhat. I hate wasting things. I don’t like to throw things away that are still usable and/or useful. But I think a serious detox is in order. It might cost me money, but my health has no price tag. I will be sure to document this process in some way once it gets underway.

In the meantime, if you’re interested, get in super quick and register immediately at thefemalehormonesolution.com to gain access to the “Encore Day” round of videos (actually up for the next 48 hours) featuring the forum’s top voted presenters, plus free gifts, including a downloadable hormonal health recipe book.

Experts featured in this amazing series of talks include fabulous Sarah Wilson (the reason I signed up in the first place), Dr Libby and celebrity chef, Pete Evans.

I hope to share my experiences with my latest round of the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program very soon too, but had to put this tip “out there” before the videos are no longer available.

I hope this is of use to someone.

<3 MM xx

*It was never suggested that hypothyroidism was the cause of the miscarriage at that time, but the testing that determined I had thyroid issues was done as a direct result of the miscarriage.
**Of no relevance to this post, really, but it is my daughter’s second birthday today. A special thank you to all of you who followed this blog and my high risk pregnancy journey with “Cupcake” in 2013. You really helped me and I am grateful; grateful to you and grateful to have my little sweetie here with me… and thriving.

GREEN TEA CHIA PUDDING WITH LEMON & BLUEBERRIES (gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan… & delicious!)

This is a light and fresh chia pudding combining the mellow freshness of a fragrant green tea with the gentle creaminess of almond milk, a hint of vibrant lemon and sweet bursts of fresh blueberries. The recipe is gluten-free, sugar-free, IQS-friendly, organic (if you use organic ingredients), vegan/plant-based and has a Paleo option too.

MissMarzipan_green_tea_chia_blueberries_lemon2

GREEN TEA CHIA PUDDING WITH LEMON & BLUEBERRIES

Makes: 2 portions | Prep Time: 5 minutes (minus time for the tea to steep) 

CHIA PUDDING INGREDIENTS

150 ml fragrant, mellow green tea* (I used Teavivre organic green tea)
175 ml unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp organic vanilla powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 – 1 tsp of finely grated lemon zest (add zest according to taste)
1 tbsp rice malt syrup** (I used PureHarvest organic, gluten-free rms)
1 tsp green protein powder
60 ml chia seeds
50 ml desiccated coconut

FOR SERVING
100 ml fresh, organic blueberries (more if you like)
A ribbon of lemon zest as garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all chia pudding ingredients in a bowl and combine well.
  2. Cover and keep in the fridge overnight.
  3. Give mix a good stir before diving it between 2 glasses/jars/bowls. Serve topped with blueberries and extra lemon zest as a garnish.

 

*The equivalent of 2 teabags steeped in 150ml of boiling water and left to cool to room temperature.

**Rms could be replaced with maple syrup for a vegan, Paleo option.

***This recipe was originally featured on the fabulous site wellsome.com, where gorgeous professional wellness coach Jema Lee shares her good life, good health knowledge and gluten-free inspiration.

ON AUTHENTICITY (eat – and post – what makes you happy!)

A while ago I posted about authenticity and that, according to Gabby Bernstein (and many others, no doubt), our truth – right here and now – is all we need to offer other people; our “authentic self” is what attracts others to us, and allowing ourselves to be who we are is the only thing that brings us lasting contentment.

I have made a decision to live with this in mind.

missmarzipan_be_true1

The way I eat/exercise/live will not resonate with everyone, but I have always tried to post what I love (whether here on my blog, or elsewhere)…

Borrowing from my “about” page:

“As you will notice if you trawl the archives of this blog right back to its inception, all the recipes here are vegetarian. Many have a health-focused leaning, be it on organic/seasonal produce, or gluten-free, or sugar-free… or a combination. I am vegetarian (of the ovo-lacto variety), although when I started this blog I was not. I simply preferred to cook and eat vegetarian food.

My husband is vegan and, increasingly, I am eating plant-based, partly out of sheer convenience and partly because I enjoy it*. I have also embraced many aspects of the I Quit Sugar program, because the “real food” principles upon which it is based make perfect sense, and because it has been health affirming for me.

You’ll hopefully find some different recipes here. What you wont find is judgement about the way you personally choose to eat. I’m here to share what I have been cooking myself, and what I love… and in doing so, hopefully provide a little inspiration to others.”

So that is it, in a nutshell.

When I first became a vegetarian in my mid-teens, I found a cause that I was genuinely passionate about, but also one through which I found justification to vent my angst. On one occasion, I sneakily stuck “meat is murder” posters around the school tuck shop**. Yes, I was angry about factory farming (and I still am), but if I am honest, I was also angry in general… and I wanted an outlet. As far as I am aware I was the only vegetarian in my senior school (“vegan” wasn’t even “a thing” back then where I lived ;) ) and so, to anyone who knew me, it would have been obvious who the “tuck shop vandal” was (I wasn’t exactly a criminal mastermind). In any case, I’ll tell you how many people I converted to vegetarianism as a result of that stunt:

Zero.

I remained a vegetarian for seven years. It simply became habitual over time. During that period of my life, three guys I dated and many of my close friends became vegetarian. And they said that one of the reasons was because they’d seen how “easy” it was for me. Without even meaning to influence others, at least a dozen people in my life became vegetarian, not because I preached at them, but partly because I simply lived the way I did. Even when I gave up vegetarianism (due to extremely poor health***), they remained vegetarian. And now that I have found a way to eat a vegetarian diet again that works for me (health-wise), I am rejoining them! ;)

If I post a Paleo recipe, it certainly doesn’t mean I am “anti-vegan”, or vice versa (in fact every single Paleo recipe I have posted has also been vegan). Liking the I Quit Sugar program does not mean I don’t appreciate a beautifully presented cake (in fact I studied a pastry diploma course last year!). Some of my favourite accounts on Instagram are very fruit-centric, even though my diet is not. Liking running does not mean I don’t like yoga (in fact, I love both and think they compliment each other well). Practicing yoga does not make me Hindu (and if I was, I wouldn’t mean I’d automatically practice yoga). Posting a selfie from a race day once in a blue moon does not make me a narcissist. And, yes, I eat berries, bread and chocolate. :)

Things are not necessarily back or white. And maybe that makes my personal lifestyle impossible to define by one term, but that’s ok with me.

If you have found a path in life that brings you health and happiness – whatever it may be – , I applaud your courage to stick to it and wish you well on your unique journey. If you are generous, honest and share your inspiration with others, I think that is wonderful too. If you are dissatisfied and suspect that certain lifestyle changes will aid your wellbeing and give you peace of mind, then I can only encourage you to keep searching until you find what resonates with/works for you. I have, very organically, found a combination of lifestyle-related things that, when applied, seem to give me increased self-awareness, better health and greater balance than I have had before. But I don’t think my way is necessarily for everyone. And I don’t think I have “arrived”. I will keep exploring and, I hope, keep growing.

I started my Instagram account around 10 months ago and always intended it to be a reflection of what was happening in my life, just as this blog is. If someone’s lifestyle differs in some aspects from mine, but they are clearly on a journey to be happy and healthy, I try to be encouraging and supportive. I try not to judge. I try to treat others as I would like to be treated myself; with kindness and respect.

I feel blessed and incredibly grateful to have been the recipient of generous support and nothing but positivity here and on other social media platforms. And regardless of whether that continues, I’ll continue to post what makes me happy, as the best I can offer others is my truth and love.

At the end of the day, you may not be able to please all people all the time, but you can still be kind… and bring happiness to your own life by doing what you love!

<3 MM xx

*In fact, I love vegan food! My diet is 95% plant-based, if not more. And if a dish manages to be vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free and delicious, it ticks all my “ideal” boxes!
**canteen
***My poor health was not linked to vegetarianism per se, but was rather due to not eating enough, an inability to cook and depression-induced apathy regarding nutrition/my general wellbeing.