Delighting my bite

Creating new dishes is something I love to do and I often play with food as a form of relaxation.

When life gets in the way, it’s all too easy to neglect relaxation time and put indulging in our passions to the bottom of the list. This can lead to feelings of fatigue, resentment and stress. When you do take time out to nourish your soul with your passions; beautiful, inspirational and delicious things can happen. Just like the delight bites that are the product of some recent ‘me time’.

This is one to play with. Taste as you go and add more or less of the key ingredients to get the right balance for you. I love mine really chocolatey so used a whole lotta raw cacao. Have fun getting your flavour just right – it’s play time!

Feeds: Makes 6 – 8 bites

Cooking time: 4 hours

Ingredients     

  • 20g Coconut oil
  • 100g Tahini, unhulled
  • 100g Chia
  • Tsp salt
  • Tsp Stevia
  • 20g Raw cacao powder (more if you are a chocolate lover)
  • Handful crushed nuts (macadamias, pecans, almonds)
  • Tbsp rose water (add a little more if you are a turkish delight lover)
  • 20g Desiccated coconut + more to decorate

Method          

  • Line a small cake tray with baking paper
  • Add the coconut oil and tahini to a bowl and mix well
  • In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients to combine
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the coconut oil and tahini mix, it will become really thick. You can use a blender to do this but I prefer the texture when mixed by hand
  • Once the ingredients have been mixed together really well, transfer the mixture to the cake tray and press down firmly
  • Sprinkle the remaining desiccated coconut on top of the sticky mixture
  • Place the cake tray in to the freezer for at least 4 hours
  • Once set, remove the cake tray and pull out the now solid mixture by lifting the baking paper
  • Lay the solid block on a flat surface and slice in to bite size pieces
  • Refrigerate until served

Why I recommend my clients avoid sugar

This has been a controversial topic in recent times. Here at Her Master Plan my clients main goals are often related to weight loss and anti-ageing. The effects of sugar on the body dramatically hinder these goals, and that is why I often suggest they avoid sugar.

I never suggest my clients make changes without giving them the education to back it up. Here is what I tell clients when I suggest they get rid of the white stuff.

Reason 1: Sugars impact on insulin.

Eating sugar dramatically raises insulin levels. Simplified, insulin is the main hormone responsible for depositing fat in fat cells. Increased insulin means increased fat storage. If you are continuously eating sugar you will maintain consistently high levels of insulin and in turn will continue to store more fat.

Hunger is the signal our body gives us to tell us we need more energy. When we eat refined sugars to provide this energy, the amount of insulin released makes our body think it’s getting a truckload of food. When this food doesn’t arrive the body is left unsatisfied and hungry again soon after. This is why we get that craving for ‘something else’, and it is the reason we often experience foggy brains and sugar cravings a couple of hours after a meal.

If that wasn’t bad enough, insulin also shuts down our fat burning capacity and keeps it slow for some time. And it does this while promoting fat storage – what a double whammy.

Reason 2: Fructose.

Sugar is made up of half glucose half fructose.

Ghrelin (your hunger hormone) is not impacted by fructose i.e. the brain does not recognise fructose as food/energy. Therefore you could eat fructose until you pop, without feeling full. The clever food industry sales people latched on to this and started adding fructose to a lot of unsuspecting foods to ensure people need to purchase more of it. Ironically, fructose is mostly added to low fat and diet foods.

Unlike anything else we put in to our body, our body does not use fructose straight away as energy; instead it’s converted directly to fat.

And perhaps worst of all, fructose is the component in sugar that assists in the deposit of visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat that builds around our organs and in turn causes a plethora of health issues.

If all that hasn’t given you good enough reason to finally kick the sweet stuff to the curb, let me appeal to your vanity here: sugar accelerates ageing. Imagine this – when we add a sugar coating to food, the food browns more quickly (imagine a glaze on BBQ meat). When we put sugar in to our bodies this accelerated browning occurs in our body too, causing cellular ageing. This is known as the maillard reaction.

17 Bright Ideas to Help Busy Mums hit health goals

I was asked by the very busy mums over at 17brightideas.com to share my 17 bright ideas to help busy mums to achieve their fat loss goals. So, I did! And here they are for you:

I know just how difficult it is to achieve ‘that’ goal when children become your priority. It is part of the reason I began Her Master Plan, as a more convenient option for busy women. Taking from that experience, here are my top 17 practical tips to make exercising and eating well easier.

  1. Take part in an online health and fitness program. This means you can exercise when it suits you – no paying for missed Personal Training sessions or missing classes at the gym because of an unexpected babysitter / snotty nose / food vs clothes situation. The support that comes from these types of programs is also great motivation to keep going, having a little online community and knowing you are not alone is priceless.
  2. Make the children part of your exercise plan. Head out of the door and walk, play tag, race. The kids will love it just as much as your waistline will.
  3. Cook with the kids. Healthy recipes can be fun and rewarding for both parties.
  4. Give yourself rewards. For every little weight loss give yourself to a little treat! A nice candle lit bath when the kids are in bed, a DIY beauty treatment. Just make sure it isn’t a food treat!
  5. Don’t dwell on bad days. Beating yourself up for bad days will only make you feel worse and cause you to go in to that ‘all or nothing’ spiral. Brush bad days under the carpet and get on with being good again the next.
  6. Be kind to yourself. If you are exhausted and the thought of exercise fills you with dread – don’t exercise! It will only cause you to resent exercise. Just relax while you are exhausted, recharge and get straight back in to it the next day.
  7. Enjoy it. Don’t look at exercise and eating well as a chore. Enjoy learning new recipes and learning about your body.
  8. Involve the kids in the shopping. Send them on a little chore in the supermarket to find the ‘greenest apple’ etc. fun for them, healthy food in your basket = win!
  9. Learn with the children. Read about why you are changing your (and their) habits. Kids are like sponges and will take it in, as will you!
  10. Be prepared. Dedicate one evening / day per week to batch cook several of your favourite healthy meals and snacks. This means no excuses to cheat because of being ‘too busy’.
  11. Get a friend on board. Ideally one who has children your age – healthy play dates!
  12. Change your view of housework and use it as exercise. Pick up one item at a time meaning you are back and forth more times, consciously squat rather than bend when picking things off the floor, run up the stairs rather than walk – it all adds up.
  13. Find new activities that you enjoy. This is proven to keep you more motivated. Try a dance class, a long adventure walk, anything that will keep you engaged.
  14. Make small, easy swaps – potato chips for pumpkin chips, spaghetti for zucchini spaghetti. The possibilities are endless.
  15. Keep a diary. Keeping track of how you are doing will not only help to keep you motivated on those hard days but it means you can look back and see what worked for you and the kids, and what didn’t.
  16. Get the kids involved in a meal rating game. Every time you try a new healthy meal, get them to rate it – keep a chart on the fridge. You will continue to add to your arsenal of meals that won’t be snubbed by the kids.
  17. Measure the kid’s height as you measure your waist. You can make this in to a fun weekly activity and something you all look forward to. It will keep you on track because you will be accountable to your kids!

Stay Fit When Pregnant – 3 Training Tips For 3 Trimesters

Knowing how to train a pregnant woman at every stage of her pregnancy is like second nature to me. But I often forget that this stuff isn’t common knowledge to most pregnant women, so I thought I’d answer a few of your burning questions.

Most women have every intention of continuing with their regular exercise routines throughout pregnancy but in reality, for some women this can actually be really hard to do. Often you are so tired in the first few months that it’s a wonder you can even make it to the bathroom (which is a regular requirement thanks to your new pea sized bladder) let alone get your butt out of bed to train.

And fluctuating body temperatures can make the thought of stepping into a hot yoga studio about as appetising as giving up chocolate.

The good news is, this is all completely normal. And depending on your level of activity prior to falling pregnant, you can definitely expect to slow down a bit over the next 9 months – phew.

So, what should you be doing? Get the most out of exercise during your pregnancy with my three tips for each of your three trimesters.

But first…

The official word

The American college of obstetrics and gynaecology (ACOG) exercise recommendations 2002 guidelines state: moderate intensity, low-impact, aerobic exercise at least three times per week (ACOG 2009). Newer guidelines propose increasing weekly physical-activity expenditure incorporating vigorous exercise and adding light strength training to the exercise routine of a healthy pregnant woman. Overall a combination of both aerobic and resistance based exercise is recommended in healthy pregnant women who experience no complications (Downs, Symons et al 2012).

My 2 cents

  • Be kind to your body and do what feels good for you (if it has been approved by a professional).
  • If you weren’t exercising before you fell pregnant, and have decided pregnancy is the kick you need to get fit – great! But don’t jump in to a cross fit class or start training for a marathon. Start very slowly and never overdo it.
  • If you are a regular exerciser who wants to continue with exercise – amazing! But listen to what your body is telling you and make sure you are aware of the relevant modifications. Now is not the time to be aiming for any PB’s.
  • In either case, make sure you have your doctor’s clearance and enlist the help of a professional in the form of a specialised PT who can show you modifications, at the least.

And here come those tips…

Trimester 1

  • Lower the impact a little from day 1. This isn’t for the baby but for you and your future bathroom habits. Trust me. It might feel fine now, and soon after pregnancy. But high impact exercise during pregnancy can cause all sorts of future issues, including incontinence later in life. An easy way to do this is simply to take the ‘jump’ element out of most exercises. For example: swap jump squats for regular squats, jump lunges for reverse lunges and just ease off the pace or distance a little with your run work.
  • Avoid super heavy weights, or anything that will cause significant outward abdominal stress.
  • Avoid rapid position changes; this can impact your blood pressure and make you dizzy/breathless. You’ll also need to leave time for a longer warm up and cool down period than usual, again to look after your blood pressure.

BONUS POINT: It’s very important you don’t overheat in your first trimester. If you feel your body temperature rising significantly, you get flushed or your heart rate rises significantly – slow down, take a break and sip on some cool water until your body temperature is back to normal.

Trimester 2

  • This is when position modification needs to come in. It’s best to work with a trainer here to make sure you are doing things right. If you don’t have access to a trainer, a few things to be aware of are not lying on your back for long periods of time and (perhaps this one’s obvious) not lying on your stomach at all. Steer clear of exercises that require you to raise a heavy weight over your head and be more aware of your posture as your belly grows – think about tucking your tailbone under and pulling your belly in and up as you move.
  • Avoid all isometric exercises. Isometric exercises can increase the heart rate of your baby (true from trimester 1 but even more important now).
  • Relaxin (the hormone that relaxes your muscles ready for growth and birth) is released from week 2 of your pregnancy onward and in larger quantities from the second trimester. Because of this it’s really important to avoid over-stretching. Over-stretching at this time can cause joint instability and problems further down the track.

Trimester 3

  • At this stage you are preparing for the big arrival (exciting)! I work with my clients during the third trimester specifically to prepare for a smooth delivery. There are several positions you can practice as part of an exercise program to help get the body ready for birth. This needs to be done with a qualified professional and is possibly one of the best gifts you can give yourself as a mummy-to-be.
  • This is also the time to start really winding down. You will start to feel a lot more tired as your pregnancy draws to a close as your body is reserving energy. Reduce the intensity of your exercise but definitely keep moving.
  • Treat yourself. Several of the sessions I complete with my clients toward the end of their pregnancy are half exercise and half gentle massage. Your body will be sore from carrying around that extra weight and a light exercise session followed by specific prenatal massage is perfect for you right now. Just make sure the person massaging you is prenatal qualified because there are some trigger spots that need to be avoided.

Why not just take a break from exercise altogether?

If you are wondering why you shouldn’t use your pregnancy as an excuse to stay on the couch for 9 months, check out the long list of benefits those who exercise during pregnancy are rewarded with:

  • Higher cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Less urinary incontinence
  • Less back pain
  • Better weight gain control
  • More straight forward delivery
  • Reduced depression risk
  • Reduced risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia

Want to find out more?

To find out more about pre and postnatal exercise, contact us to book a session.

Muffin lovin’

What girl doesn’t love a good muffin? They’re quick, convenient and yummy. It’s a shame they’re just so naughty, right? Actually, they don’t need to be. The right muffin can be a great way to feed your body some of the goodies it needs, as well as killing a few cravings along the way.

Don’t let that muffin treat give you a muffin top. Choose one of my top 5 nutrient-packed muffins to make you, and your tummy smile:

1. Easy Peasy Pumpkin Muffins

My latest recipe and one that I am currently addicted to. It has all the things a busy girl needs – good fats, veggies, complex carbs and a hint of sweetness, with absolutely no sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Check it out here

pumpkin muffins

2. Macadamia + Coconut Muffins with Coconut Butter

Being one of the experts for I Quit Sugar means testing all of their recipes… it’s a hard life. This is the one recipe I go back to any time I am in need of a really indulgent treat.
Check it out here

iqs muffins

3. Zucchini Ham & Sun-dried Tomato Savoury Muffins

This is one of my favourite breakfasts on the run. And it fits with the proven protein & good fats for breakfast philosophy – a total winner.
Check it out here

savory muff

4. Raspberry Coconut and Banana Muffins

From the amazing Food Fix Up App! This is my absolute go to when I need a lil’ pick me up. It’s also the perfect use for those lonely, slightly squishy bananas left in my fruit bowl at the end of the week.
Download the app here

stef muff 2

5. Frozen Chocolate Muffins

Not everyone is a born baker (including me). This recipe requires no baking, very little brain power, only 2 ingredients and hardly any time to put together – perfect for all the lazy chefs out there!
Check it out here

frozen muffins

WHOLE FOOD FOR THE WHOLE BODY

We know foods impact on the body is huge. During the wholefood for the whole body journey, we continue to prove how powerful many foods can be when used on both the inside and outside of the body. This week it is all about every woman’s favourite food – chocolate! The raw, unprocessed form of chocolate is raw cacao. It is a true superfood offering a long list of wonderfully beneficial properties for the body, and mind.

Nourish from within:

  • Maintain a healthy heart with the essential heart healthy monosaturated fats contained in raw cacao.
  • Aid muscle recovery and restful sleep by benefiting from the magnesium packed chocolate hit.
  • Reduce the signs of aging with the antioxidants found in raw cacao.

How to:

  • Get romantic. They say the way to his heart is through his stomach. My taste explosion red hot chocolate love bites will certainly spice things up.
  • Knock that craving on the head. What woman doesn’t suffer with the occasional overwhelming chocolate craving? These cravings are often our body telling us that we are in need of some of the many nourishing vitamins and minerals in the raw version of chocolate – raw cacao. Don’t ignore your body; grab a handful of raw cacao nibs as a satisfying chocolate hit that will put those cravings to rest.
  • Celebrate a holiday. When you are doing your best to smash those heath goals, special occasions can be tough. With Easter just around the corner there is no reason for you to feel as if you are missing out with our Extraordinary Easter egg!

I use raw cacao in the form of powder and nibs in many of my sweet recipes. See more of them, here.

Treating the outside:

With its antioxidant powers, cacao is not just the perfect choice for nourishing the body from within. It is also a great natural choice to work magic from the outside, too.

How to:

Raw cacao scrub.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup raw cacao nibs
  • 1 cup coconut oil

Method:

Mix the ingredients together, well. Apply liberally to the skin using upward circular, motions, always in the direction of the heart. Work with the mixture for as long as you feel you need to (longer for a dryer skin). Rinse well and follow with your usual moisturiser for glowing, smooth skin and a feeling of revitalization.

Final thought:

Raw cacao is a true powerhouse! Too much of a good thing can cause side effects and cause an adverse reaction in some people.

Why Her Master Plan is different

Her Master Plan believes every woman is unique and I want to offer something unique to every woman. This is why Her Master Plan is unique:

Affordable: Big events are exciting, fun, enjoyable and expensive. I believe your best you doesn’t need to be a broke you. Having the ability to create your own Master Plan gives you confidence to keep within your own budget, whatever that might be.

Time efficient: Your time is precious. This is something we too often forget, especially when planning a big event. I combine all your health, fitness and beauty needs into one plan, giving you back your precious time and allowing you to prepare not only your body but also your mind.

Convenient: Getting the results you want is going to require effort. My goal is to offer convenience, ensuring all of that effort goes in to working hard on your plan. Offering mobile services, DIY survival kits and online support. Her Master Plan make excuses hard to come by.

I am just like you: While my passion lies in health and fitness, I also enjoy chocolate and wine and sometimes I forget to take our make-up off before bed. I understand that no one is perfect and ideals are often not sustainable. Following an 80/20 rule is what I recommend. Meaning that 80% of your time you spend behaving and 20% of the time you allow yourself a treat or a lazy night. To be perfect all the time would make life boring, right?

Togetherness = results: Having all your health, fitness and beauty needs taken care of by one expert, results in us working closely together. This means that together, we are far more accountable to achieve incredible results.

Easy: Working with one person for all of your health, fitness and beauty needs makes it easy. Share make-up ideas during a personal training session, ask questions about nutrition while enjoying a manicure. Having the ability to do this with that one person who understands your master plan creates a feeling of comfort and calm, that is of the highest importance when working toward your goals.

Complementary:  Health, fitness and beauty complement one another. Your health influences your fitness. Your fitness and health determine the beauty treatment your body needs. The treatments you have impact your health and fitness. Still, women approach these components of an overall goal separately. With Her Master Plan your goal is supported holistically.

Simple: I like to keep it simple. I will plan to meet your goal and if that means a certain style of training and treatments that is what we will do. I don’t follow fads or gimmicks – eat well, train hard, have fun, look after your body inside and out and you will see results. Simple.

Education:  It is great working toward a special event, and the way it feels achieving your goal in time is wonderful. However, good health, fitness and beauty are essential for life. I aim to not only get you event ready but to also educate you along the way so that your results become your norm.

Good food = Good mood

Eating well is essential to being healthy and happy. Food doesn’t only have an impact on the body, but also the mind. Eating well can reduce the stress that is often caused by today’s busy lifestyle. Ironically a common excuse I hear for not eating well is being too busy. Don’t compromise time or taste with my top 10 favourite, deliciously nourishing dishes:

Breakfast

These days it is tough to find a quick breakfast option that isn’t full of sugar or highly processed. The following options are a perfect alternative.

Brunch loaf – This delicious no-bread toast option is simple, yummy and full of goodness. I mix up the ingredients for a new loaf every week! Find the super simple recipe over at Fitter Food.

Hot tip: Make this on a Sunday evening and have breakfast ready for the working week.

Mushroom, Capsicum and Egg Breakfast Stack – This recipe does take a little more effort, but is well worth it. From my most used recipe app – Food Fix up, this is a truly nourishing weekend breakfast treat. Here’s how:

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 Red capsicum, halved and stalk removed.

2 Portobello mushrooms, stems removed

2 Eggs

1 1 Handful basil leaves

½ Avocado, sliced

Sea salt

Black pepper

2 Tbsp macadamia or coconut oil

1 Handful cherry tomatoes, halved

1 spring onion, sliced

Method:

Pre-heat grill, medium to high

Rub a little oil over each capsicum half, season with salt and place under grill, cook for 10 minutes, turning a couple of times.

Meanwhile heat a frying pan, medium to high, rub the mushrooms in a little oil, season with salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are just softening.

Transfer to an oven-proof plate and place in the bottom of the oven to keep them warm.

Keep the frying pan on the heat, add a tablespoon of oil and carefully crack the eggs in, cook for 3 minutes, or to your liking.

Take the mushrooms out of the oven and divide between two plates, layer the spinach and basil leaves on top, followed by the capsicum.

Lay the avocado on top of that then finally put the egg on.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with tomatoes and spring onion.

Have access to all of the amazing Food Fix up recipes by downloading the app.

Hot tip: Save this for a weekend brunch. 


Lunch

It is far too easy to grab a quick, easy, and not too healthy lunch. Prepare with these recipes and be winning through to dinner.

Mediterranean vegetable salad – Whist studying, I (and the rest of the class) would often have lunch envy over one girl’s lunch. Thankfully she now has a great food blog to share her secrets. This is my favourite.

Hot tip: This will last in the fridge for around 4 days. Make a big batch and you have lunch and side dishes for half a week. Tastes great served cold.

Witlof-sardine-boats – The easiest lunch recipe ever! I omit the homemade cream cheese for ease and it still tastes divine.

Hot tip: Use organic canned sardines to make it even easier.

roast-veg-salad1


Dinner

A fast paced lifestyle makes it difficult to make the right dinner choices. Check out these ‘fast food’ recipes for a quick, healthy option.

Speedy & Spicy Beef Stir Fry – Another winner from the guys at fitter food. This is one of my fail safe quick and yummy dinners.

Hot tip: Try it with chicken, pork or whatever you have in the fridge; it is still speedy and yummy.

Red Curry Snapper & Ginger Honey CarrotsIt is hard to believe that this delicious dish will take only 20 minutes out of your busy day.

Hot tip: Try pumpkin instead of carrots for a heartier dish.

Dessert

Even the most disciplined of us give in to dessert occasionally, we all deserve treats. With these recipes, treatin’ doesn’t have to mean cheatin’.

Coco Cacao ice cream – This one I created all by myself. I love experimenting with different foods, I love time-efficient food and I love dessert. I came up with this super simple ice-cream just in time for Sydney summer to arrive.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

160ml Premium organic coconut milk

Flesh of one whole young coconut

½ Tbsp coconut oil

25g Raw organic cacao powder

5g 100% natural xylitol

Pinch Cinnamon

Method:

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor, transfer to a clean bowl and place in fridge for 30-40mins.

Hot tip: I find placing the mixture in the freezer makes it too solid; the fridge gives it a good, ice-creamy texture – play around with this depending on your preference.

cc ice


On the side:

Paleo Cauliflower ‘rice’ – This is the BEST! The yummiest and healthiest side dish I have ever come across. Forget mushy bland and overcooked cauliflower ‘rice’. This recipe from Real Food Connection is fluffy, has a light crunch and does not involve over cooked vegetables!

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower – finely chopped

1 small onion – pealed and finely chopped

1 carrot – finely chopped

1 clove garlic – crushed

4 tablespoons (60 g) oil (olive or coconut)

Pink salt and pepper for seasoning

Method:

Heat half the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until for around 2 minutes. Too the pan then add the chopped carrot and sauté for a further 3-5 mins or until onions are soft and light brown.

Add cauliflower and remaining oil; sauté for 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper

Hot tip – the cauliflower heads need less chopping/ food processing than the stalks. Chop them separately for a more consistent size

vegetable-rice-600x600

Still don’t have the time? Real food connection offers an awesome food delivery service – freshly prepared, nutritious and affordable meals delivered to your doorstep. These guys have often been my saviour during those REALLY busy times. Check-out what they have on offer.