Zesty Hummus

This hummus dip takes no more than 10 minutes to make and is bursting with contrasting flavours; warmth from the chickpeas and tahini, a citrus zing from the lemon and satisfying creaminess from the avocado. I was so sure I could eat the whole bowlful but scooping it up with chunky salad sticks filled me up half way through and it became my dinner. This meal has some serious raw food goodness, providing essential fats, carbs, protein, fibre and it’s sugar free – eat freely!

Hummus4Ingredients:

  • Chickpeas (230g drained)
  • Ripe Avocado (1 large)
  • Light Tahini (2 tablespoons)
  • Lemon Juice (1 Lemon + pulp)
  • Flax Seed oil (2 dessert spoons)
  • Red Chillies (3 small, chopped)
  • Garlic (3 small cloves)
  • Cumin (3 teaspoons)
  • Sea Salt (1/2 teaspoon)

Method:

  1. Throw all the ingredients into a blender on low speed for 2 minutes.
  2. Push the sides down and blend for another 2 minutes to a smooth but slightly lumpy consistency.
  3. Give it a little stir to make sure the lumps, bumps and cumin are evenly mixed.

Done! Serve with chunky cut lengths of cucumber, carrot, celery, bell pepper and cherry tomatoes (for a little sweetness)

Serves 2

 

 

Spicy Mango & Tomato Salsa

Quickly fire up your meal by whizzing up this fruity, spicy and sweet raw food salsa in a blender and generously heap it on to nachos, veggies, use it as a dip or eat it straight from the bowl! I served it with rice and beans to my hungry husband with mint “guacamole”.

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Salsa Ingredients:

  • Tomato, Ripe Vine (400g, quartered)
  • Mango, Sweet & Ripe (200g / 1 small)
  • Physalis (75g)
  • Spring Onion (50g)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (1 dessert spoon)
  • Paprika (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Red Chilli Powder (1 flat teaspoon)
  • Cumin/Jeera Powder (1 flat teaspoon)
  • Coriander/Dhania Powder (1/2 flat teaspoon)

Guacamole Ingredients:

  • Avocado (200g)
  • Mint, Coleman’s Garden Concentrate (1 heaped dessert spoon)

Rice & Beans Ingredients:

  • Red Kidney Beans (230g cooked)
  • Rice, Basmati Wholegrain (1/2 cup dry)
  • Cheese, Smokey, Vivolife Vegan (75g grated)
  • Salt (1/8 teaspoon)
  • Hing/Asafoetida Powder (1/4 teaspoon)

Method:

  1. Throw all the salsa ingredients into a blender on low speed until you have a chunky salsa.
  2. Clean the bowl. Throw the guacamole ingredients into a blender on low speed until you have a smooth, slightly lumpy dip
  3. Cook the rice as you normally would to absorb all water. Add the kidney beans with the lid on to heat up with the steam for 10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir gently until half melted.
  4. Top with Jalepenos

 

Serves 2

(Note: if you have a big appetite, the rice and beans only serves 1 hungry husband and if you like  a lot of guacamole double the ingredients to make more)

Cycling Trip: Lake Como, 105 miles

Food & Fuel

My latest fruit fuelled adventure was cycling all the way around Lake Como in Italy. Just over 100 miles in two days. This is the furthest I’ve cycled. 10 years ago I cycled around the Isle of Man, and whilst the scenery was wonderful, fitness wise, my lungs were burning, my legs were on fire, my knees ached horriblly and I don’t even want to describe the pain I experienced from the saddle. It was two days of tears and desperation with my hand twitching to call for a taxi back to the starting point. In the end I dug deep and somehow made it round.

France & Italy Roadtrip - 19

Starting off from our campsite on a 105 mile route around Lake Como – glorious morning! (got sunburnt on my back though – doh!!)

Cycling  last week around Lake Como was an altogether different experience. The whole foods diet and regular fitness activities over the last 2 years really paid dividends and this trip was pure pleasure from start to finish. It was one of the most joyous explorations, with visual delights and physical elation. I ate fruit for breakfast and snacks (cherries, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, peaches), drank fruit juice along the way, topped up with a couple of chocolate bars and one or two lemon sodas. In the evening, although I was dreaming about eating cherries and drinking water, in order to be able to dine out with my cycling buddies I had to succumb to restaurant meals and in Italy as a vegan / vegetarian that means pasta – I must say, in Bellagio I had the most delicious pasta I have ever eaten – fresh and simple, with caramelised onions and sundried tomatoes – the flavours poured through.

Hungry Cyclists. This restaurant served the best pasta I ever, ever tasted!

Hungry Cyclists. This restaurant served the best pasta I ever, ever tasted!

 

Prepping The Night Before (Tourist Info)

We parked our camper van at the stunning Gardenia lakeside campsite in Domaso where we relaxed by the water and got ready for the next day. The tourist information was a 10 minute walk away (to find it turn left on exiting the campsite entrance and follow the road to a small area / lay by next to the road on the left hand side). There we received excellent advice, a map and ferry timetable (there’s a get out clause to chop off the bottom left “prong” of the lake and cut the route short if it all feels too much, as there are ferries from Bellagio to Varena and Menaggio). After that Wigs made sure our bikes were set up, tyres pumped, lights mounted, water bottles filled, panniers attached, and he double checked the route he’d planned. In the morning we woke up to a glorious, sunny morning and the scenery around the campsite filled my body with a sense of expanse.

Spectacular scenery around the campsite

Spectacular scenery around the campsite

Spectacular scenery around the campsite

 

The Route (Tunnels, Roads & Cycle Paths, Climbs)

Since driving / cycling is on the right hand side of the road,  we set off clockwise to Bellagio. Cycling in this direction meant we could be closer to the lake and to made it easier to stop at viewing points.

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Domaso is near the top

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There are ferries between Bellagio, Varena and Menaggio (middle of the map, between the “prongs”)

We cycled 47 miles on the first day (Damaso to Bellagio). I did a another 3 that evening to have a look around. The route was mostly on scenic, fairly quiet roads and almost all of the tunnels were avoidable. Entrances to old side roads were just in front of the tunnels and headed off to the right, running parallel with the tunnels. They took us through beautiful towns with venetian style buildings, picturesque alleyways, quaint cafes and local shops.

There were two tunnels right next to each other on this leg near Bellagio that didn’t have old side roads and so we had to go through them. Together they were around 4 km in total.  They were lit, but did have some very dark patches (do make sure you have front and rear lights and reflective gear for this, and take the opportunity to stop and take your sunglasses off before going through). A few hard core Italian cyclists in sponsored vests blasted through without lights, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it! The drivers were all very considerate and moved right over to give us at least a car’s width distance, some gave even more. The scariest part was the sound! In our van, driving through those tunnels we barely heard a thing. On our cycles, fully exposed we heard the menacing sounds of war of the worlds alien spacecraft rumbling in the distance, getting louder and louder as they closed in, locking their targets, ready to plough us down (only to see it was a Fiat 500 tootling past)!

 

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Day 1: Climb at the end

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Day 2: Climb at the start

The route was fairly flat, with one hillier section around mark 3 (first map above) and the biggest climb hitting  at the end of the leg around mark 8 (first map). Why are steep climbs always at the end of the session?

On the second day we cycled 52 miles and the climbing was at the start, all the way up to point 3 and to Como (second map above). It was baking hot, the sun was beating down on my back and despite the sunblock, for the first time in my life I got sun burn! I wish I’d had factor 50 with me instead of factor 30 – but I’ve never stayed in the sun that long before to need it. Now I have a lovely reminder of a racer back outline between my shoulders, from where my skin was covered and where it was exposed – and it’s still peeling a week later!

The winding, climbing roads were quite narrow for cars, so I kept my rear light on and I was grateful that all the motorists waited for suitable passing points to give us plenty of room when overtaking. Some of the larger vehicles such as lorries and buses honked before going around tight corners to let others know they were coming. This leg, had a few more town roads (nothing worse than cycling through Birmingham), especially around the ferry port, but it also a had a very large section of quiet cycle paths once it got flatter. Like the old roads, we found these diverting off to the right just in front of the main tunnels. We only had to go through one enclosed tunnel on this day coming into Como town (from memory it was about 0.5 km).

 

Accommodation & Clothing

Wigs had pre-booked a cool roof top apartment in Bellagio which was right in the centre and had a fantastic lookout from a delightful roof terrace. We freshened up, sat back and gazed over the buildings to the lake sipping sparkling water. Immersed in the cinematic ambience of an Italian romance, I wondered if I might see Woody Allen walk past with Scarlett Johanson discussing his latest quirky script about observing people’s stories and relationships across balconies. I packed super light as it was so hot even in the evenings. I only took a pair of shorts, a merino camisole, flip-flops and a merino mid layer for warmth just in case. Our friends treated themselves to a night in one of the hotels on the water front, but I loved the personal feel of “our home” for the night.

 

The Scenery 

We kept a relaxed pace on both days and made lots of stops to absorb the beauty around us. With breaks for photos, snacks and lunch, we took roughly 6-7 hours each day to get round. I was truly thrilled that I felt completely well and that if I’d wanted to I could have pushed myself a lot harder to complete the routes faster. But instead of doing that I enjoyed feeling free, flying around on a cycle without being concerned about my body or any niggles. I also wanted to be cautious about exercising in such strong heat (which I’m not used to), especially as our our friends did end up boarding the ferry to cut their route short which was a shame.  So to celebrate completing both legs and cycling the full route, as soon as we got back to our van, I munched on some juicy grapes, dived into my wetsuit and went for my first open water swim in the campsite lake, saw some fish along the way and zig-zagged about as I tried to learn sighting without lane lines!

 

Lake Como Cycle TripLake Como Cycle Trip

Lake Como Cycle Trip

Lake Como Cycle Scenery

 

Fruitarianism: So Far so Good!

Fruitarian, Lava-Flo.com

History

I’ve tried so many different diets through my years to initially look for ways to solve a multitude of health issues. Now I’m doing it to refine the good point I’ve reached in a quest for increased energy to support long heavy surf sessions, running, all day skiing, kiteboarding, cycling etc. Two years ago I went on a Candida diet and cut back on my sports (as it was such a restricted diet that left me feeling a little weak initially) and it fixed all of my problems and I felt truly well for the first time in my life.

High Fat, Low Carb

At christmas time, having gradually increased my sport again and taking it up to new levels, I tried the Dr. Perlmutter high fat, low carb diet and whilst I stayed lean, instead of increased energy I became very low in my energy, with sluggish digestion and my mood slumped down very badly making me angry and irritable with the people around me.

Carb Loading

Most recently I tried carbing up on bread and pasta to see if that would give me staying power and stop me from bonking (at the weekend I do around 6 hours of exercise on each day). Unfortunately for me, when I did this my digestive problems, joint and back pain returned with a vengeance (I’m possibly gluten intolerant), so I scrapped that idea.

High Protein

I’m unable to eat dairy due to allergies (sneezing, mucus, itching, nausea). So to consume protein quantities in line with recommendations (British Cycling) I went heavy on organic  soya milk, nuts (soaked and dehydrated) and increased beans and pulses, in the quest for more endurance fuel and faster recovery times. But it didn’t help and I ended up groggy and grumpy with headaches. This of course could be due to a leaky gut (from Candida) and difficulties with eating soya and nuts. It works very well for a lot of people, it just didn’t seem to work for me. I’ll check back on this later to see if it was just the soya or just the nuts or both causing problems.

Fruitarian

After all of this, strangely I started craving fruit! I had a day where I felt utterly worn out even after a recovery break from sport and all I wanted to do was eat mangoes, melon, strawberries and kiwi! So I did! And I started to feel better straight away!

I’d been avoiding large quantities of fruit due to the sugar content and my Candida fears.  However I started looking into fruit and its effects on health none the less, and that’s how I became acquainted with the term Fruitarianism and decided I had nothing to lose if I tried it for one week. I did have my concerns that increasing even natural sugar might resurrect old health issues but so far it hasn’t (I’ve been eating clean for two years, so perhaps that cleared the Candida properly). I’ve only been doing this for a short time so I’ll keep an eye on this.

Sugar in Fruit Feels Different

The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that every time I have refined sugar (white sugar), I get a sensation of horrible “adrenalin” surges in my stomach during the night that wake me up in a cold sweat – the type of feeling of dropping down a roller coaster or getting ready to defend myself against a night zombie! I used to think I suffered from stress, but there’s a direct correlation with eating refined sugar and experiencing those surges (and when I don’t they go away).

When I eat fruit though I don’t get that feeling at all and I sleep soundly. Even with tropical fruit like mangoes, pineapples and bananas. So the “sugar is sugar” science doesn’t match up with my body’s response. There is something different between sugar in fruit and granulated sugar. Even dried fruit doesn’t give me those surges (dates, figs, apricots). What’s the deal?

Results

After my high protein diet (soya and nuts) my heavy head hasn’t quite cleared yet, but the phlegm has gone. My mood has lifted right up; I’m smiling and laughing and feel relaxed. On Sunday, fuelled on a fruit bowl, I ran the longest distance I’ve ever managed (8.5 miles, which is a big achievement for me as the thought of running anywhere used to fill me with dread). My lungs and heart felt fresh and I felt I could have carried on further but I didn’t want to cause an injury by increasing my distance too much at once from my previous week’s 6.5 miles.

I’m alert; the day after the big run my table tennis rallies and attacks shot up a level and I barely missed a shot! My leg muscles were really tight but after only 2 days they recovered (it used to take me a full week)! This is particularly exciting, as it means I not only felt fresher at work (rather struggling through and wanting to rest), but I’ve also been able to continue with lower impact activities during the week like Yoga which help recovery even more, plus I’m looking forward to snowboarding tomorrow (rather than feeling like I have to force myself to keep up the practice having just learned).

Monitoring

I’m keen to try this for a longer period and see what the results are and if it’s sustainable for my body. I always track my results very carefully (health and performance) whenever I try a new way of eating so that I know exactly what is working for me and if it’s sustainable.

I track symptoms, body fat% plus use heart rate monitors (HRM Swim, HRM Tri, Vivosmart) and a GPS watch (Fenix 3) to check all day heart rate, running, cycling and swimming performance -> all in a quest to get fitter -> to have more energy -> to surf and ski longer -> for flow and for freedom…

Supplements

I already take a full spectrum of high strength vitamin supplements and probiotics which I introduced into my regime to support my body through the Candida / Leaky Gut healing, so I’m not concerned about deficiencies and probably won’t do any blood tests unless at some point I decide I want to see how I fare without the supplements. My body’s internal monitoring and ability to perform tells me in no uncertain terms when it’s happy or not.

Sports Fuel: Power Smoothie!

Fuel up with this delicious chocolatey shake, packed with protein and carbs to power you through to your next sports session (in my case, transitioning from swimming to rock climbing). It’s a good idea to stock your cupboards with wholefoods (nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, veggies) as well as superfood powders – then you’ll have everything to hand and can simply throw combinations into your blender, relax for a few minutes, and guzzle heartily.

This moreish shake uses carob instead of chocolate to avoid theobromine-tremors for those who are stimulant sensitive (like me). The maca will give you a gentle lift. It has just under 16g protein, 16.4g healthy fats, 43g natural sugars and 430kcals.

  • Soya Milk (300 ml)
  • Banana (100g)
  • Dried Dates (50g)
  • Smooth Peanut Butter (10g)
  • Carob Powder (5g)
  • Maca Powder (10g)
  • Flax Seed Oil (1 tsp)

Power Smoothie, Lava-Flo

Sport Fuel: Wholefoods Delights

Preparing food to fuel up for sports can be quick, simple and delicious. You don’t have to rely solely on shakes and power bars if you fancy some real food during your recovery periods between workouts. Once you get to know what your body’s energy and nutrition needs are through the day (amino acids, carbs, fatty acids) and once you become familiar with the key components of different foods, you can throw things together without much hassle to fit what you’re doing that day – hurray!

This whole food lunch bowl contains just under 500 calories, 19g protein, 40g of natural sugar and 6g fat. And it only takes 10 minutes to prepare:

  • Butternut Squash: 200g boiled
  • Mango: 200g
  • Chickpeas: 230g
  • Green Chilli: 2 x small, chopped
  • Mace: sprinkling / pinch
  • Cinnamon: sprinkling / pinch
  • Salt: tiny pinch (on the butternut squash)

Mango, Butternut Squash & Chickpea Bowl

My 5 Day Juice Cleanse – My Way

I started a juice fast on Monday as I was really feeling rubbish from all the junk food that was gradually creeping in from running all day workshops and not having lunch breaks or proper food handy but fun sized chocolate and crisps instead (to passify attendees).

It was starting to become a habit again and leeching into my “off work” meals, buying Ginsters, crisps and chocolate from petrol stations on the way to mountain bike and land kiting weekends.

I found it surprisingly easy to have only juice during the day (1 litre) with organic unsweetened soya milk as breakfast and snacks (1 litre). I’d also have a few salad items and pieces of fruit in the evening (sauerkraut, tomatoes and two peaches) as I didn’t want to get ill or too weak from doing this while working my contract!

My body has really flushed out! I lost 4 pounds in 4 days (hopefully all junk and waste material!) and my belly has shrunk back down. I also have become a lot more flexible again due to easing pressure on my back (by shedding the bloat) and have even increased my weekday exercise (from yoga on Wednesday to also rock climbing on Tuesday too!)

Day 1 was the hardest in terms of hunger and on Day 2 I was craving savoury solids but it passed fairly easily. Initially I was only going to do 1 day,  and then I found I could do one more and one more! I’m not planning to go past 5 days though and I’ll need to eat solids in order to fuel up for surfing this weekend.

Making a different juice (no pulp) each day really helped me to stick to it by keeping it varied. Here’s what I had:

Mon: Kale, Cucumber, Celery, Pineapple, Apple and Lime (mean green)
Tue: Beetroot, Carrot, Ginger, Apple (vampire juice)
Wed: Pure Orange
Thurs: Kiwi, Grape, Mint, Lime, Pinapple
Fri: Organic Unsweetened Soya Milk

I also drank a pint of water every morning with lemon juice (always) and topped up by drinking more through the day.

I was super pleased to find that my cravings for junk and even savoury solids were completely gone by (Day 4), even though the workshop table was laden with crisps, muffins and biscuits I didn’t fancy any of it 🙂

Since I’m generally ‘clean’ and made a massive lifestyle change this time last year (Candida Diet), I haven’t experienced any negative side effects from the juice fast. I feel much better for it, no headaches or mood swings (that all came out last year). I felt a little queasy yesterday night for 20 minutes but a few minutes of fresh air and 1/4 teaspoon of honey fixed it (could have been low on blood sugar as this ‘meal plan’ only gives me 1,000 calories per day).

So I think this will be a great thing to do once every 6 months to ‘reboot’ (as Jo Cross puts it) to detox, remove bad food habits and clear out addictive substances from junk foods (sugar, chocolate, bad fats)! Perhaps once every 3 months is doable if I just do 3 days (I’ll have to decide on that later). It will definitely be an excellent way to cleanse after Xmas indulgence. So maybe I’ll go for one juice fast in Jan and another in June!

Candida Diary – Checkpoint (3 of 5)

photoI really noticed how bad food over Christmas knocked me off my natural high I now have, and it triggered horrible apathy, a negative outlook, food cravings and mood swings (for sugar and chocolate).

Read the full diary entry here: Post Anti-Candida Diet, Checkpoint 3

 

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