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SEED-SQUARED COOKiES

By | Dessert, Recipes, Recipes Detail Page, Snacks | No Comments

These cookies are decadent, delicious and nutritious. Perfect to make as a weekend recipe, and then take the leftovers to share at work (errrrr…that’s if you have leftovers…)

Recipe makes ~20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter (recipe below*)
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp fine grain iodised salt
  • ½ cup cocoa / cacao powder
  • 100g dark chocolate (70% or higher), roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pepitas / pumpkin seeds

*feel free to use a nut butter if this is handy in the pantry/you are impatient on cookie preparation! Effect will be similar.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line two rimmed trays with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla. Add the seed butter and mix thoroughly. Add the maple syrup, baking soda, and salt and fold together. Sift in the cocoa/cacao and stir to incorporate. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
  3. Drop dollops of the cookie dough on the prepared baking sheet about 5cm apart, and flatten them a little. Sprinkle your pepitas from a height, don’t worry about those that fall between the cookies, you’ll pop them in a jar once roasted for a tasty snack later on.
  4. Bake the cookies for 10 to 13 minutes. Let them cool slightly before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Sunflower Seed Butter – warning – highly addictive. 

Makes about 1½ cups

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups / 400g raw, unsalted, sunflower seeds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fine-grain iodised salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Place the sunflower seeds in an even layer on a lined baking tray and toast until golden and fragrant. Remove them from the oven and let cool.
  3. Using your most powerful food processor, blitz the sunflower seeds, occasionally scraping down the sides, until smooth and creamy. Adding a little extra virgin olive oil will improve consistency – use up to 3 Tbsp in your mixture if desired. Salt to taste (start with ½ tsp or less; taste once combined, and before adding more)
  4. Once the mixture is creamy, transfer to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

How not to ruin taper week

By | Blog, Fitness, Health, Sports Nutrition | One Comment

By Sally Garrard | Advanced Sports Dietitian | 6 minute read

It’s the mark of a great coach that recognises recovery is what will bring out your best performance. These same coaches will go to great lengths to make sure that your training load has peaks and troughs, and that you progressively overload your system, and then recover. 

And we trust our coaches.  They ask us to work hard, and we’re generally we’re pretty good at it. However the same mindset that takes us to the start line of an ironman, a marathon or any manner of the adventure and endurance races out there, can also be our undoing. In taper week, when given a rest day, instead of thinking “Oh you’ve given me the day off, I’ll sleep in and do some light mobility/stretching/foam-roller work with my spare time” the thought tends to be “Oh you’ve given me the day off? I’ll sleep in and pop in a little run when I wake up then, thanks”. And a little run is 20km…

So firstly, taper week doesn’t end up being the taper the coach had intended. But at the same time, the athlete still thinks that because they are in taper week, and they feel their training load is non-existent, they clamp down on food intake enormously, because “well, I’m barely training”.

I’m not talking to every athlete here. There are athletes who go to the other end of the spectrum in taper week, and end up eating way too much because they’ve got more time on their hands, and the high training load that previously dampened their appetite is now gone, and they start eating for Australia. If you don’t identify with the prior situation (i.e. clamping down on food when training load reduces) there is probably no point reading on because this article doesn’t apply to you. It might apply to your training partner though 😉 The content of this article applies to those who find it difficult to switch off their hard-training genes, and to those who put serious control on their eating habits.

I’ve witnessed athletes getting through ridiculously high training loads with very small amounts of food, so it can be done. You’ll get through training, you’ll get to the start line, and it’s highly likely you’ll finish the race. You might even run a PB. But were are you capable of more? It might not be that you were capable of a faster time on race day (too many variables!), but you can bet you would’ve been capable of being a happier person in your training block if you allowed yourself a little more fuel. You wouldn’t have bitten your partner’s head off when they asked you to put on (yet another) load of washing, when all you wanted to do was flake on the couch. You wouldn’t have picked up all the head colds that made their way through the squad.  You wouldn’t have felt the pinch so early in those brick sessions, or the heavy legs so early in the long training runs.

But you might not identify with these above scenarios at all, because you’ve always held a tight restriction on your food, and training how you do, is your norm. Consider there is a new level of normal to find. Consider you don’t realise what it feels like to REALLY train with good energy stores on board. I’m not saying training will be a walk in the park, but I am saying you could reap more rewards from the effort you put in.

So how are we fixing this? If this is your taper week as you read this, I wouldn’t suggest you change a thing. There is too much risk involved in changing eating habits significantly when it occurs close to your A-race. The entire solution will be looking at your training week fuel, and that is a matter for 20-weeks out from the race, not 1 week out.

What I can suggest is that you keep your food the same as you usually would in a regular training week. Resist the urge to drop it back. Sure you won’t be having the gels, Vegemite sandwiches and sports drinks that you would usually chow down on in 5-hr sessions, but your baseline food should not be reduced. Oh and do what your coach asks: you have permission to drop your training load!

Let’s circle back to the longer-term solution though: Your true potential in the sport will be reached when you learn how to fuel your 20-week training block. Everyone’s base nutrition is different, so the problem that we are fixing will be different for each athlete. For some it will mean improving recovery strategies and ensuring a decent high-protein meal after a tough training session. Or bumping up athlete fats to reduce your overall inflammation. For others it will mean upping the (dreaded) carbohydrate.

If you were on board with what I was saying until you saw the word carbohydrate, then this advice absolutely applies to you. If the idea of carbs make you bristle, we have a problem. And that problem will loosely fall in to one of 2 categories…

a) you’ll be chronically under-fuelled and under-recovered, and experience the myriad of issues associated with this, or

b) you’ll be making up for the day-time carb-phobia by ploughing through sugars late at night.

Oh but they are only the natural sugars. “Yep, just honey and maple syrup, that’s all I have in my treats!”  Sure, but that is still sugar, and while I am a massive fan of nutritious treats, when they are coming in en-masse as a result of a deficiency of quality, complex carb earlier in the day, we are looking down the barrel of creating eating behaviours that (at best) don’t set you up for a good night sleep, and (at worst) don’t set you up for long-term healthy eating behaviours.

I’m not advocating old-school advice of a pasta party before every long session, and I definitely don’t want you joining in with those who sit at the cafe and undo their hard work by ploughing through a big breakfast backed up with an oversized cold-pressed juice. But I will stand by the fact that complex carbs need to be a part of your training nutrition and that you shouldn’t feel guilty about having them. Some will need more, some will need less, but there is not an athlete on this planet that can go on zero and create their best performance. NB. The ideal cafe recovery meal? Poached eggs on grain sourdough with a side of avocado, and a milk-based coffee. GF toast if needed!

So where to from here? Start writing down the thoughts you have that are attached to eating the way you are. Can you see some common themes? If you have a lot of thoughts about foods being right or wrong, I’ll put my money on the fact that with a few tweaks to the way you approach your nutrition, you could be training in a head space that is happier and healthier, and will produce a faster race day experience. If you’re not sure, reach out! We are only an email away.

Do you have what it takes to be a Fitness Model?

By | Fitness, Sports Nutrition | No Comments

Bikini’s, bronzed skin, beach hair, heels and smiles. Perhaps it’s the warming weather and the threat of exposed skin that sees the clinic heat up with aspiring fitness models.

From Ashy Bines to Kayla Itsines, Instagram is rife with images of everyday females suggesting that you too can look like a fitness model in a short space of time. Whilst the majority of these are positively promoting a healthier active lifestyle, the flip side to taking this to a competitive level is something to consider a little more seriously. 

As one of the few qualified Sports Dietitian’s specialising in this increasingly popular sport, I wanted to reveal the unspoken truth behind competing, what it demands physically and psychologically and highlight the ramifications of undertaking such extreme nutrition and exercise practices under amateur guidance.

Like many elite level sports, natural body sculpting is one of long-term dedication and commitment. The key difference however lies in competition where placing’s are not determined on clear performance outcomes but entirely based on aesthetics that promote extreme leanness with muscularity in combination with confident stage presence and posing.

One of my key questions to a new client wanting to undertake a fitness model competition process is;

Why do you want to compete?”

The answer to this question is vital as it guides the direction of my professional approach. Ideally to have a solid resistance training background for a few years before thinking about competing would be a good start, it also helps if your body fat is already in a healthy or good range, which for most people that train consistently this should be relatively easy to maintain all year round.

In terms of when you start your cutting (or dieting) phase for a contest, 20 weeks is a good amount of time to ensure you are progressively putting yourself in a steady energy deficit to still nutritionally support your training needs and your health as long as possible. Amongst all this is to ensure you align yourself with a good posing coach that can dictate which category and federation your physique might be best suited to be competitive in, as well as give you a confidence boost to know you need to be able to put your body on show in the best possible light to enhance your efforts with a smile and in really high heels.

Still with me?

And after all that training (by now everyone in the gym is aware that you are there A LOT of the time), your dwindling nutrition budget starts to welcome hunger (after all my job is essentially to help starve you in the best possible way to leanness!) and all the time in front of the mirror practising your posing despite being your worst critic and finding flaws that question your confidence, you bring your best package to stage, where you still take the risk of being lost amongst a big crowd of equally amazing competitors, or you could be so close it comes down to the colour of your lipstick (yep, that’s an infuriating true story).

If that wasn’t enough to put on the line, there is no way you can come out of a fitness model contest without having some element of disordered eating patterns or feelings of deprivation or guilt around food in some way. Taking an already lean physique and getting it leaner requires extreme sacrifice, something our human bodies dislike and will fight hard against, particularly if you do it for a long period of time. Meal planning for this sport has to be extremely prescriptive and is adjusted based on accurate skinfold measurements by a trained technician – no eye balling here! There is as much science as there is art when it comes to how food and supplementation is adjusted, as this needs to consider the athlete as a human and not just an IIFYM robot.

Also understand that the body fat level that’s deemed competitive in this sport is NOT HEALTHY by our standard and done poorly with unprofessional guidance has seen disrupted hormone levels (particularly menstrual cycle dysfunction in women and low testosterone/libido in men) as well as electrolyte imbalances with severe fluid, diuretic and sodium malpractices.   

And you thought that was a challenge? The largest hurdle you will encounter in my experience is realising all your dedication and efforts for a few moments on stage (irrespective of the outcome) captured in a photo that you will consistently revisit will only be a moment in your life but your psychological image of yourself might take a little longer to repair. This is something that is particularly hard to explain unless you have been through the process but telling an athlete that it’s not healthy and unsustainable to maintain stage physique leanness post-competition seems like it’s heard but not believed.

As much as I make it imperative to have close follow-up and post-competition nutrition planning as part of my contest preparation, once you set a benchmark that high you find that it becomes a new comparison, irrespective of nourishing your body back to optimal functioning and health. This is something that is very hard to let go of which will often see competitors return quickly back into competitions in the fear of losing their peak physique. 

So I ask you that question again… “Why is it you want to compete?”

I can appreciate if you are a novice without the inside knowledge on what it actually takes to be successful in this sport along with its risks, you may be caught up in a desire to compete prematurely. There is no shame in realising that it just might not be the right time to take on such an event.

For those of you that have read this far and still have a burning interest to explore this sport, I encourage you (before you start to seek a qualified coach) to take the time to find your WHY. This must be something valid enough to be prepared to take on contest prep with as much proficiency as though you’re training for the Tour de France. Your WHY will be the reason that you commit to this day in day out, it will need to go beyond your brain telling you you’re tired or hungry or sore, it will be the underlying drive when you think you want to give up.

And once you’ve found that, then I congratulate you, as you are about to embark on the most amazing self-discovery that extends well beyond any physical capability. You are some of the most stoic, determined, intelligent and dedicated athletes I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

To my clients (past and present – you know who you are!) you all are absolute inspirations to me and what keeps my enthusiasm and love of this sport alive. I thank you all immensely for the knowledge I have gained as a clinician working with you all in helping achieve your goals with your best interest at heart. To future fitness models, I genuinely wish you success and longevity in an amazing sport.

PiSTACiO, BERRY + CHiA CHOC SLiCE

By | Dessert, Recipes, Recipes Detail Page, Snacks | No Comments

METHOD

BASE LAYER: add all base ingredients to a high powered blender and blitz until it resembles fine crumbs and sticks together when pressed. Spoon mixture into a lined slice tin and press down with the back of a spatula. Place it in the freezer, and rinse your blender.

 

BERRY LAYER: add berries, cashews and maple syrup to your blender and blitz until smooth. Now stir through the chia seeds and coconut oil. Add the berry mix to the base and smooth over with a spatula again. Return to the freezer to set.

 

CHOC LAYER: If your coconut oil is solid, melt it in a small saucepan; if not, this step can be done straight in a mixing bowl. To your liquid coconut oil add the cacao powder, stir til the lumps are gone, then add the maple syrup. Pour on to the berry layer…and back to the freezer for it to completely set (a few hours).

This recipe needs to store in the freezer as it will melt quickly otherwise. Cut as you need!

POWER BROWNiES

By | Recipes, Recipes Detail Page, Snacks | No Comments
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a small square cake tin with baking paper
  2. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT for the chocolate in a high-powered blender. Blend until the mixture isn’t getting any smoother.
  3. Stir in the chopped chocolate
  4. Pour into the cake tin and smooth with the back of a spatula to ensure you have a level mixture
  5. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until you see a crust/cooked top
  6. Turn out on a wire rack, and cut into 8 bars once cooled

ORANGE + KALE SALAD w. MAPLE-TAHiNi DRESSiNG

By | Dinner, Lunch, Recipes, Recipes Detail Page | No Comments

INGREDIENTS

Salad

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 10-12 brussels sprouts
  • 4-5 eschallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 large orange, thinly sliced

Dressing

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar OR white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp miso paste
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • season to taste

METHOD

  1. Using a sharp knife, de-stem the kale. Wash, and then chop the leaves. Once dry, sprinkle a little salt over the kale and use your hands to scrunch the kale. Do this for ~30 seconds, then transfer the kale to the salad bowl you’ll serve it in.
  2. Chop off and discard the end stem and any patchy outer leaves from your Brussels sprouts, then finely chop the sprouts, and add them to the kale. Next finely chop the eschallots, and add to the bowl. Lastly, add the thin orange slices.
  3. To make your dressing: add the tahini, vinegar, miso, maple syrup, water and hot sauce to a tightly-sealing glass jar, replace the lid and give it a good shake. Taste your dressing and add ingredients to get the taste to your liking.
  4. Dress the salad, and serve. Enjoy!

 

RAiNBOW COLESLAW w. CULTURED DRESSiNG

By | Dinner, Lunch, Recipes, Recipes Detail Page | One Comment

There is so much gut-loving goodness in this salad with the cultures in the buttermilk (probiotics) and the healthy-gut-fuel in the raw spring onions + cabbage (prebiotics). Give your dinner meal a make over with this nutritious + delicious salad!

 

SALAD:

  • ½ red cabbage, finely sliced
  • 4 spring onions / eschallots, finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot – skin left on, and spiralise or julienne
  • 1 large under-ripe green pear, julienned

 

DRESSING:

  • ½ cup buttermilk or kefir
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • S+P to taste

 

METHOD:

  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.
  2. Mix up the dressing in a small glass jar and give it a good shake to emulsify, season to taste.
  3. This is a salad you can dress ahead of time if you like – the cabbage withstands it! Enjoy

REAL POPCORN – DiY!

By | Recipes, Recipes Detail Page, Snacks | One Comment

INGREDIENTS:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup corn kernels
  • Fine-grain salt

 

METHOD:

  1. In a lidded-saucepan, pour enough olive oil to create a thin layer over the base, turn on the heat
  2. Leave it a little while to get some heat, you can test the heat by adding a single kernel and seeing if it bubbles
  3. Once you have the heat, add in your corn kernels, pick up the saucepan off the heat and give it a good few shoves back + forth to get the kernels coated in the olive oil
  4. Quickly add the lid back on, return it to the heat, and then continue to pick it up regularly and swirl the kernels around, keeping the lid on tightly. This will prevent getting burnt crispy ones at the bottom! Once they start popping continue to pick up & swirl.
  5. Once the popping stops, add in a little salt and give it a good stir – then enjoy while still warm!

 

SUMAC TOMATO + ROAST PUMPKiN SALAD w. YOGHURT DRESSiNG

By | Dinner, Recipes, Recipes Detail Page | No Comments

We used a high-protein yoghurt to give this salad a little boost over the traditional roast pumpkin side dish

INGREDIENTS:

Sumac tomatoes…

  • 750g Roma tomatoes, quartered lengthways
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2tsp Sumac
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

 

Roasted pumpkin…

  • 1 whole Jap pumpkin, cut into large chunks, keep skin on
  • Pumpkin spice rub: 1Tbsp coriander, 2 tsp each ground cumin + cinnamon, ¼ tsp hot chilli flakes, 1 tsp salt, 4 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO

 

Yoghurt dressing…

  • 1 cup high-protein natural greek style yoghurt (we used Black Swan low-fat Greek Style)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 2Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO

 

Salad base: 4 cups baby spinach or rocket

 

METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper
  2. Place your quartered Roma tomatoes and garlic cloves on one of the baking trays, sprinkle with sumac, season with s&p, drizzle with EVOO. Place on the top shelf of the oven to roast – about 20minutes. Check regularly and remove once they are charring on the edges.
  3. Combine the dry spices and the crushed garlic for your pumpkin rub in a small bowl. Place the pumpkin pieces on the remaining baking trays, drizzle with EVOO, then  rub the spice mix on the upside of the pumpkin. Some spice mix will likely remain, and that is fine – you’ll do the same thing when you turn the pumpkin to cook it evenly. Add these to the oven, remove tomatoes if done (set aside to cool) and place the pumpkin on the top shelf. Check on your pumpkin every 5-10minutes, rotate the pieces, and rub in last of the spice mix. Remove and leave to cool once cooked.
  4. Mix up your dressing ingredients in a tight-lidded glass jar. Shake to combine. Once the roast garlic from the tomato tray is cooled enough to handle, squeeze the insides to your dressing, press large pieces with a fork, replace lid, and shake dressing to combine.
  5. Scatter baby spinach/rocket on a platter
  6. Assemble your salad by placing roast pumpkin pieces, and sumac tomatoes over the greens. When ready to serve, spoon out your yoghurt dressing. Enjoy!

 

BEETROOT + LENTiL BOLOGNAiSE

By | Dinner, Recipes, Recipes Detail Page | No Comments
  1. Pour ~1Tbsp olive oil into a large pot over a medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, chilli and anchovies and let them soften and become aromatic. The anchovies should fall apart and mix in easily.
  3. Add the diced carrot and celery, sauté for a few minutes then add beetroot and mushrooms and let heat until the mushrooms start releasing water.
  4. Break the beef cube into the pan, add the dried herbs, drained lentils and passata and stir through evenly.
  5. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat slightly and cook for ~20min until vegetables are all soft and sauce has a rich flavour and colour.
  6. Meanwhile boil spaghetti according the packet directions and serve as much as your carb needs dictate with a generous amount of sauce.