Paleo walnut and sour cherry Brownies

A variation on normal Paleo chocolate Brownies, just to add interest. They are very gooey, not too sweet, very chocolatey and moreish. No honey or syrup, just a tiny bit of Stevia and some dates/prunes for sweetness. The sour cherries and walnuts add lovely texture.

paleo recipe crossfit

You will need:-

  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarb of soda
  • 4 ounces baking chocolate (as close to 100% cacao as you can get/like)
  • 1/2 cup soft dates, pits removed
  • 1/4 cup soft prunes
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ teaspoon stevia (optional)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • a handful of dried sour cherries

paleo
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

Combine the almonds, salt and bicarb in your mixer. Blitz in the dates and prunes until they are like coarse sand. Add the 3 eggs and the stevia.

In the meantime, melt your chocolate over a bain-marie, and when almost melted add the coconut oil to melt too.

paleo

When finger-cool, pour the chocolate in to the almond mixture and whisk to combine.

Finally, add the walnuts and pulse briefly to chop a little. Stir in the cherries.

Pour the whole mixture (which is quite thick) into a 8×8 inch baking dish, and bake for around 20 minutes. I actually went 21 minutes in a non-fan oven. They were beautifully just-undercooked so that the centres are soft and gooey.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool properly. Cut into squares (about 16) and enjoy!

Advertisements

Paleo chocolate sandwich cake

This is quite delicious, very chocolatey and therefore not entirely without sugar content. You can use whatever chocolate you like, but I went for Green & Black’s 72% cooking chocolate.

paleo crosffit

It’s not the cheapest cake to make, so bring it out for birthdays and special occasions. My non-Paleo friends enjoyed this enormously.

You will need:-

Two 8 or 9 inch cake tins, greased and lined. I used silicone cake moulds for simplicity of exit…

Your oven to be pre-heated to 170 degrees.

For the cake batter:


  • 8 ounces dark chocolate
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 
6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 4 cups ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup best quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of barely-there simmering water. Set aside to cool (the mixture needs to cool for at least 10 minutes before adding the the egg mixture below).

Whisk together the maple syrup and eggs in a mixer for 5-6 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy-looking. Slowly whisk in cooled chocolate and vanilla bean paste.

Sift almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder over egg mixture. Gently fold in to incorporate. Divide the cake batter batter between two cake tins and bake cakes for around 20 minutes in the centre of the oven, until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges and then remove the cakes from the pans. Leave to cool completely.

To keep it simple, I sandwiched the cakes together with some whipped fresh cream. There is a way to make complex Paleo butter-cream, but this way was quite yummy enough if you are a dairy eater.

 

crossfit poster

‘Cut & come again’ Paleo spiced fruit cake


paleo

I was fighting the urge to bake a moist, crumbly fruit cake yesterday, and eventually decided to take a gamble & experiment with a grain & sugar free Paleo version. It turned out better than okay, and I would defy any Paleo cynic to tell the difference between this cake and a normal fruit cake.

You will need:-

A 20cm deep, loose bottomed cake tin, greased and lined.
350g of ground almonds
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g agave nectar or other sweetener
1-2tsp ground mixed spice
4 large eggs, beaten
175g softened butter
375g sultanas, raisins, cherries, mixed peel – combination of your choice

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

paleo

Put the whole lot into your bowl/mixer and whisk until everything is properly incorporated. If it looks a bit stodgy, add approx. 3-4 tbsp full fat milk or coconut (drinking) milk to the mixture, to loosen it to a nice batter.

Spoon it all into your cake tin and level off the top.

Bake it for approx. 1 and a quarter hours, or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool properly.

Put the kettle on and salivate! Remember, if you invite friends to share, there will be less for you!

20131121-165856.jpg

 

What came first, the Paleo or the Thyroid?

So I went to the Docs because I felt like my hormones were all over the place. Who the hell gets spots and weird menstruation patterns in their 40s, after all? Well, I suppose women approaching ‘The Change’ do, but I’m not old enough for…….shit. Maybe I am.

Bloods were taken and I sat back and relaxed. A lifetime of negative tests and a healthy body and mind can lull one into a reassuring sense of arrogance about these things. I’m as fit as I’ve been at any time in my life to this point, so what could possibly be wrong?

The blood results were in this morning, and a casual conversation with the Doctor’s office forced me to ask the Receptionist to actually repeat herself. An under-active thyroid? Whaaaa?!

My first thought, if I’m completely honest was, “Hell yeah”. I saw this as the vindication I need for the fact that I still carry excess body fat, in spite of the work I have put in with a radical diet and exercise regime. I had assumed up to this point that I find it so much harder to lose fat because I’m old, but maybe my thyroid was the culprit after all.

paleo crossfit

I have been following a Paleo diet for around 18 months now, and whilst I do imbibe the occasional glass of wine, I rarely eat sugar and always eat a grain-free, low carb diet. Coupled with my healthy diet, I exercise a lot – Crossfit at least 3 or 4 times per week, and intense netball matches twice a week. There’s not much more I could do, and yet body fat lingers in certain places in spite of this hard work.

Whilst I’ve not yet had my Doc’s consultation about this matter, I wanted to post this to see whether the Paleo community can offer any advice. Paleo is good for auto-immune issues, right? Removing gluten from my diet must surely be helpful to my thyroid? I don’t eat polyunsaturated fats – also good, yes? Well, that’s what I thought until I read this. Now I am confused…..

Is it possible that my low carb regime is stifling hormone production? Could it be that I have Euthyroid Sick Syndrome? Is there a chance that my thyroid gland is perfectly healthy but the T3/T4 hormones are not being produced in adequate proportions, giving the impression of Hypothyroidism? In other words, that my Paleo diet has actually caused my Hypothyroidism?!

I am in a dilemma. I have always avoided telling my GP that I follow a Paleo diet. I have no intention of changing, but quite frankly could do without the ‘low fat diets are good for you’ spiel that I would undoubtedly get if I ‘fessed up. Perhaps now I need to come clean, but will a High Street GP be able to help me with such a complex matter?

According to the article above, if I am a victim of ESS, synthetic T4 medication is not going to be able to help me. Without the missing hormones required to convert it into the required T3 which can be absorbed into my body’s organs effectively, I might as well not bother.

Feeling a little lost and rather confused, I’ll keep you posted.

Banana and Walnut Heaven

Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that I have harboured a lifelong hatred for bananas. And I am talking deep, in-bred disgust for the heinous stinky things. But I LOVE this recipe, so it can’t be bad!!

I made mine in these tiny little mini loaf tins that I bought, mainly because they are cute and I wanted to dirty them up, but you could use a large loaf tin.

paleo crossfit

You will need:
1 1/4 cups ground almonds
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cornflour (or arrowroot if you have it)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp flax seed flour
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
4 tbsp melted butter
3 ripe bananas
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Line your loaf tin with baking parchment & pre-heat oven to about 170 degrees.
Mash up the bananas in a large bowl until good and mushy.
Add the other wet ingredients and give it a good whipping to mix thoroughly.
In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (except the nuts) to ensure each is properly distributed throughout.
Add the dry to the wet and mix well.

paleo crossfit
Finally, stir in the chopped nuts and add the mix to your loaf tin(s). I filled 3 mini tins.
I cooked mine for about 25 minutes, but for a larger tin I’d extend this to about 50 minutes. Keep checking them and take them out when you think they are ready, with a nice firm top and a clean skewer test.
Then smear liberally with organic butter and keep the kids away…

paleo crossfit

“Keep up the low fat diet, dear!”

I have not weighed myself for several weeks, so I hopped on the scales this morning out of curiosity. I was feeling confident, since I have just become reacquainted with my old friends, Mr and Mrs Hipbone.

These days I am way more concerned about the inches and my shape, rather than the number on the scales, but it was good to see that both were moving in the right direction.

I weighed in today at 11 stone, 5lbs, which is a further 5.5lbs loss, and almost a stone and a half in total.

Belly reducing – check; buttocks tightening – check; old jeans fitting – check. Amazeballs.

paleo crossfitOn the negative side, I decided to get a health check from the doctor. Whilst my blood pressure and cardiovascular disease tests were all good (a relief since my Mum died from a major heart attack), my cholesterol results came in at 6.4. Shitty bollocks. Panic set in for a tiny moment. On the face of it this was definitely not so good. A score under 5, according to the NHS, is considered ‘healthy’. Oops. I began to question whether my new diet was actually causing me long term damage, and more importantly, what would it be doing to my two precious kids?

I went to see the nurse who reassuringly advised me that it was all fine since my other results were so very good, and that my risk of developing any kind of life-threatening illness was in the ‘very low’ category. She smiled at me and told me to “keep up the good work, you know – lots of exercise (tick) and a nice, healthy, low fat diet (ahem) which you are clearly already doing.”

I felt better but not altogether convinced (funny, the NHS has a habit of leaving you wanting..) so I turned to my CrossFit coach for advice. He directed me here. Blimey this guy is a genius. I read some stuff and then I read some more stuff. Cholesterol, it seems is not quite as simple as ‘they’ would have us believe. Look, I’m no professor, so I’m not even going to try to explain the science to you here (and if you’d seen my O level biology results in 1983 you’d understand why that’s probably sensible), but if you have any qualms about Paleo, saturated fats and cholesterol, just take a few minutes to read. I am sticking with it.

Thankfully the nurse left no question mark at the end of her sentence, so I felt it wise not to inform her that I had been eating a high saturated fat diet for 7 months. God knows what I might have done to her blood pressure….

Confession time…

In April I started ‘eating clean’  (such a wonderful phrase that suggests I used to eat dirt!). By that I mean I started eating a Paleo Diet. No Bread, Rice, Sugar etc, and it has been going pretty well having manged to shed more than two stone so far, but about 2 weeks ago it all seemed to have gone a bit pear-shaped!

I tend to weigh myself far too often, curious about how much my weight fluctuates during a week/day… Did you know for example that I lose an average of 3lb overnight? I must be a very restless sleeper cos I’m sure I dont lose that much during an average WOD!.

Anyway, I have been losing typically 1lb a week fairly consistently and was very happy with that as eventually I will get to where I want to be, and I am clearly putting on muscle from my Cross fit sessions. However, about 2 weeks ago, I suddenly put on 4lb! WTF I thought, how the shitting hell has that happened? Who the fuck has spiked my food? Four weeks effort down the tubes!

I was to say the least slightly apoplectic (always wanted to use that word) and ready to throw in the towel. May be I just needed a big poo? I really couldn’t understand what had gone wrong or what had changed – at least that was my story at the time …

I can now confess that I knew exactly what had gone wrong. In a single week I had fallen off the Paleo track twice.

The first time was staying in a hotel in Bromley. I was eating in my room and ordered steak and salad and was very clear that I didn’t want chips – It duly arrived without chips, but with a fucking huge bread roll!

There was no mention of the roll in the description so maybe the chef had thought he was doing me a favour, or was secretly trying to de-rail my Paleo efforts. Whatever, I wasn’t tempted. I ate the steak and salad, and left the role on the tray where it stayed, just in the corner of my eye…

I should have put it outside the room but I didn’t.

Over the next two hours it stared at me. I’m sure at one point it spoke to me.

“eat me, you know you want to”

“I don’t” (yes, I am now talking to a bread roll)

“Eat me, no one will know”

“I don’t want to eat you”

“Is it because you can’t”

“No, I just don’t want to eat you”

“Are you scared of what might happen”

“No, of course not… but I am curious…”

The rest is a blur, but I was suddenly surrounded by crumbs and empty butter wrappers with a butter stained knife in my hands. ” Oh shit, WTF have I done?”

Of course, all I had done was eaten a (very large) bread roll, but I was expecting my stomach to expand uncontrollably and then explode, rather like the scene from Alien. It didn’t, although I did feel uncomfortable and burp a lot (and I mean a lot) probably more to do with the speed at which I had consumed the offending roll, rather than its effect on my stomach.

This event was swiftly followed by another conversation two days later, but this time with a large sausage roll meant for George after he had finished playing Rugby (there were two, so he didn’t go without). Similar outcome, but this time sat in my car surrounded by pastry crumbs…

The net result of these two events? – I assume the inflammation we read so much about from gluten and the additional weight gain. Proof or coincidence I don’t know, but me and gluten are now no longer speaking to each other!