Coconut & Sweet Potato Brownies by Elsa’s Wholesome Life

cacao-sweet-potato-brownieRecently I happily stumbled across Elsa’s vibrant Instagram page @elsas_wholesomelife full of goodness and foodie inspiration. Her blog Elsa’s Wholesome Life is just as colourful with many plant based and healthy recipes. I am very excited to be featuring her as a guest on the blog this week and sharing her delicious Coconut and Sweet Potato Brownie recipe.

Elsa is a student dietician living and studying on the sunny Gold Coast, sharing her love for whole, raw and plant based foods. Currently in her third year of her bachelor degree, soon she will be an accredited practising dietician, educating and helping people prevent and treat disease through their diet.

One of her favourite quotes is Let food be thy medicine – Hippocrates. One of my favourites too!

Now here’s her delicious recipe!

 Coconut & Sweet Potato Brownies

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free, No Additives, Organic, Superfood’s, and Plant Based.

Now at first it may seem like a crazy ridiculous idea to throw veggies in a dessert. But I assure once you try, you will be all for the ol’ unsuspecting vegetable… sweet taties!

These brownies are baked crunchy on the top and gooey on the inside, just like a good brownie should be. Naturally sweetened, so it won’t make your blood sugar soar.

So what’s exciting about this is not only will you be getting a serve of veggies but also sweet potatoes are extremely high in Beta-Carotene, meaning lots of Vitamin A. They also contain oodles of Vitamin C, a superfood for your skin! Yay.

So it wouldn’t be a brownie without the hero superfood cacao. Packed with antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, and B vitamins, just to name a few. Basically just ALOT of goodness. Yet it’s chocolate right!?

Who thought something so incredibly tasty could also be soo good for you. Genius!!

Alright so how do we do this?

Here’s what you will need: 

2 large organic sweet potatoes
4-5 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
10-14 organic medjool dates (depends how sweet you would like it)
1/2 c organic coconut flour
1/4 c desiccated organic coconut
1/4 c organic almond meal
3 tbsp melted organic cold pressed coconut oil
sweet-potatoespinch of sea salt
1 tsp maca powder (optional)

For decorating:

1-2 tsp raw cacao powder
1-2 tbsp cacao nibs

To serve:

pack of strawberries
cacao sauce (extra, not pictured)

For sauce:

equal portions of cacao, coconut oil, and natural sweetener

Construction instructions: 

Firstly.. I recommend putting on some clothes that you don’t mind getting a lil grubby!

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan forced) my ovens super old so I had it set to about 200.
  2. Steam the sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped) until super soft (fork falls through them)

note: steaming is better than boiling, keeps more of the nutrients alive!

  1. Blend in a processor the cooked sweet potatoes and dates until creamy and smooth. Taste and add more dates if you would like it sweeter.
  2. Add the cacao, salt, flour, almond meal, coconut, and maca to a big bowl, stir to combine.
  3. Scoop the potato mixture into the bowl with the other ingredients and combine with a big spoon, or your hands.. they are the best tool in the kitchen after all. If you like, add extra cacao to taste. Stir in the melted coconut oil well.
  4. Line a baking tin with baking paper, I used a square tin.
  5. Scoop mixture (my mixture was way too thick to pour) into the tray and press flat and firm.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until your fork comes out clean. My ovens’ super slow so it ended up being in there for more like 40 minutes. Plus I like the top to be nice and crunchy!
  7. Set aside to cool, then remove from tin, slice up, sift the cacao powder over the top, sprinkle some nibs, and serve with sliced strawberries and some cacao sauce if you like it yummy and gooey (optional, which you make by melting coconut oil over a stove with cacao and your choice of sweetener)

I also highly recommend serving it warm, you can store in a container and refrigerate it for up to a week, then microwave (or heat in the oven) your serve, and serve with the berries and sauce. Waaayy better when its gooey and warm with your hot tea 🙂 

brownie-1

Make sure you tag @elsas_wholesomelife on instagram if you recreate this recipe. Check out her blog here for her full post including more mouth watering pics and delicious healthy recipes!

What is a Health Coach?

What is a Health Coach_

Health Coaching is a relatively new thing in Australia. I must admit that two years ago, I had no idea that Health Coaches even existed! Now that I am a Health Coach I thought I’d shed some light on what I do and don’t do.

First and foremost, I aim to empower people to live their own version of a happy and healthy life. I do this by truly listening to them about their concerns, goals and dreams. We discuss solutions to issues or problems and through this, the client often comes up with their own plan of action.

Health Coaches largely work with people who are generally healthy but may have mild health concerns such as headaches, sugar cravings and fatigue. We discuss ways to ‘crowd out’ caffeine, sugar and junk food as well as anything else that the client may need support with. For example, choosing the best gluten free or dairy free alternatives.

Clients experience great success in achieving their goals when they are able to come to their own conclusions about their health. For example, someone who has sugar cravings may never have thought about what triggers this. We encourage clients to listen to their body and ask meaningful questions to facilitate an understanding of the particular unhealthy habits that they want to overcome.

Of course, health isn’t just about what we eat. Often what we eat is secondary to everything else going on in our lives. Health Coaches take a holistic approach to health and wellness. We encourage clients to move their bodies and find an activity or exercise that they enjoy as well as explore what makes them happy.

Other areas to explore and discuss for your overall health and wellness include career, relationships, education, home environment, self-esteem, creativity, spirituality and stress-management. Your Health Coach is there for you to provide support with what you need to improve your health and wellbeing.

Can you think of a time in your life when you have had someone’s unbiased and undivided attention? When you have had someone truly listen to you and cheer you on? When you have had someone hold you accountable to your word so that you achieve your goals? This is the major role of a Health Coach.

It is not the role of a Health Coach to diagnose, prescribe treatments or cure illness. We cannot give medical advice or tailor meal plans or recommend medications. We are not doctors, Nutritionists or Dieticians. Clients would find great benefit in working with a Health Coach alongside these professionals. We can assist people in how to action recommendations from their health professional in a way that fits in to their lifestyle.

You will find that there are Health Coaches out there who specialise in different areas. This may be because they have overcome or experienced a particular situation or health concern or they may have a background that complements Health Coaching. What is important is that you are able to find someone you are comfortable with and relaxed talking to. Only you know what is best for you.

If you are ready to make some long lasting and positive changes to your health and wellness, you can find out more about my Health Coaching Program here or contact me for your free consultation here. The right time to start is always now!

Maybe you are interested in becoming a Health Coach too? I’d be happy to answer your questions. You can contact me here.

Shine Bright!x

10 Reasons to Visit a Farmer’s Market!

vegIt started out as a “date” with my husband on a Sunday morning. We saw a sign advertising the local Farmer’s Market and decided to check it out. There was live music and delicious food stalls, plus they sold the newspaper. So we would sit on the grass in the shade or sun, depending on the season, soak up the sounds and catch up on the news while enjoying a gozleme and a coffee. Afterwards we’d shop for our fruit and vegetables for the week. A very happy and relaxing Sunday morning!

Around the same time I saw the films Forks Over Knives, Foodmatters and Food Inc. Eating local and understanding where our food comes from and how it is grown really mattered to me. I also started Meat Free Monday in my household so including more plant based foods in our diet was also really important. So much so, that our Farmer’s Market visit became our weekly shop. Sometimes we would just be in and out in 15 minutes buying what we needed. The value for money really surprised us. We were coming home with bags of fresh produce and we hadn’t spent much at all. In fact, many prices at the markets were much cheaper than the supermarket.

Not only were we getting more value for our money but we were also getting better quality. These locally grown fruits and vegetables tasted amazing! I have had fruit and vegetables from a supermarket in the last year and I can honestly say that there is a huge difference in the taste. After buying directly from a farmer, I now know how fresh fruits and vegetables should taste. I encourage you to test it out for yourself.

Here are some reasons why you should visit a Farmer’s Market this weekend:

  1. Everything tastes better because it is fresh
  2. More nutritious as it’s sold right after it’s picked
  3. Support local farming families
  4. Eating in season and fresh, ripe foods increases the foods’ vitality
  5. Less packaging
  6. It’s cheaper to buy organic and spray free produce from the local farmer
  7. Promotes energy conservation due to reduction in transport
  8. Supports the environment and wildlife, farmers have respect for their land
  9. Builds community as you get to know the farmer and the story behind what you eat
  10. It’s fun! Farmer’s Markets are fun for everyone!

Now, five years later, things have changed; the Farmer’s Market is no longer a “date”. My donkey (husband!) only accompanies me occasionally, so now I happily visit the markets on my own or with my mum and carry my own bags!!

I have found an amazing local farmer who delivers fresh, spray free, organic produce to my door. But I do visit the markets for particular fruit and veggie items as well as organic meat, kombucha, eggs and fresh bread.

Where do you buy your fruit and veg? Are you a regular at the Farmer’s Market? Please leave a comment below with your favourite one and why.

I offer Farmer’s Market tours as well as Supermarket and Health Food Store tours in my Health Coaching Program, you can find out more here.

Have you signed up to my newsletter? Receive your free healthy snack resource and fortnightly health and wellness inspiration here.

Are you fat-phobic?

Sunflower-oil-free-license-CC0I’m talking about food here. If so, you’re not alone. The majority of us have been raised on the message that fat is bad. There is a prevalence of low-fat versions of all foods, particularly dairy.  The margarine vs butter debate has been argued for decades, each time adding more confusion.  We have our tea or coffee with low-fat or ‘skinny’ milk. We believe that low-fat yogurt is the best option. We choose meat that has little or no fat in it. We’re told that eating fat will make us fat or lead to heart disease or worse. We check food packets for information about the fat content. We feel guilty eating fat. Have you ever considered where these messages about fat originated and how much is true? Are we benefitting from this message and our feelings towards fat? If not, who is?

Recently, I have been thinking about these questions. I’m a huge believer in just eating real food. Food in its most natural form, just what our grandparents and great grandparents ate. There are so many ways of eating these days that value this. Our ancestors ate fat in its most natural form, think lard, butter, olive oil, whole milk, animal fat etc. However, it is only in recent times that obesity and the interest in dieting have become significant. If you’ve seen That Sugar Film, you would understand that it’s sugar, not fat, that will add centimetres to your waistline. So do we need to re-think our idea of fat? Can fat actually improve our health? Let’s start with the basics:

  1. All fats are not equal. There is good and bad.
  2. Nutrient rich traditional fats can nourish your body. They allow our cells to work properly and strengthen the immune system. Saturated fats are necessary for our lungs, kidney function and hormone production. It also helps to aid our digestion. Read more about the benefits here and here.
  3. Trans fats are the worst fats. Think polyunsaturated and hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods. These increase the likelihood of disease. Find out more here.

I know this is just scratching the surface of a huge topic which I will keep exploring. I hope it has sparked some of your own questions. It’s time to change our relationship with fat. We need to get to know fat a little better. You never know, fat could become your body’s best friend!

How do you feel about fat? Please leave a comment below.

Want help learning how to choose and use nutritious fats and other good-for-you foods? Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about!

Have you signed up to my newsletter? You’ll find more information about where to find healthy fats and how to use them delivered right to your inbox. Plus you’ll receive my free Snack and Shine Bright resource.

8 Reasons Why You Need This Meal in Your Life!

photo (29)I’m not exaggerating here! This little meal is amazing for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack. I first saw this idea on the Foodmatters website and it has been a part of my life ever since! Now, I’m a huge fan of Japanese food, I lived there for just over a year, so before I even made it I knew I’d love it. There just isn’t enough seaweed wrapped meals in Australia and this spin on sushi is amazing. Here are eight reasons why you need to try the Omelette Nori Roll this week:

  1. Super easy. I made this in less than 10 minutes. Whisk 2 or 3 eggs, mix with shallots, photo (28)mushrooms and any greens you like plus some turmeric. Cook as an omelette on the frying pan. Place your sheet of dried seaweed (nori) on the plate, top with the cooked omelette, kim chi or sauerkraut, greens, avocado or anything else you like. Roll up and enjoy.
  1. Seaweed has amazing health benefits. Seaweed is an ancient superfood, rich in minerals such as iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamins C and A, protein and the list goes on. Natural iodine is vital for aiding and maintaining healthy thyroid function, this gland controls two fertility hormones, as well as functions such as weight management, how we use energy and how we sleep. Other benefits of eating seaweed include improved memory and immunity, clear skin, healthy hair and lower blood pressure. Buy some nori on your next visit to the supermarket!
  2. Eggs are good for you! There has been so much contradicting information over the years, debating whether eggs are good or bad for you. My belief is that we should be eating real food and eggs fall under this category. Dr Nat Kringoudis rates eggs as the number one fertility food, a complete meal with the perfect package of protein and good quality fats. The most important thing about eggs is where they come from. Always, always buy pastured eggs from a local farmer or if this isn’t available to you, buy free range and preferably organic.
  3. Good for your gut! By now you have probably heard about how important gut health is. With 85% of our immune system located in our gut wall, looking after our gut health should be a number one priority. Greens, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kim chi, as well as avocado are some of the foods in this meal that promote a healthy gut.photo (30)
  4. It’s delicious! Can there be a better reason? Food is meant to be enjoyed!
  5. It’s so versatile! Just add whatever you like to your omelette and the filling. There are no rules. Experiment! Find a combination of fillings that you like.
  6. You can eat it on the go. Eating mindfully is incredibly important and something I will write about another day. But unfortunately there are times when we just have so much going on and we spend our days racing around. Yes, eat this on the go, but do chew your food and enjoy the taste!
  7. The perfect ‘I don’t feel like cooking’ or ‘We’ve got no food in the house’ meal. As long as you have nori, eggs and some veggies or greens in the house, you’ve got yourself a healthy meal. No need to head to the drive thru!

I would love for you to share your favourite Omelette Nori Roll fillings, make sure you leave a comment below.

Are you after more healthy snack ideas? Are you bored with the same snacks everyday? Subscribe to my newsletter to receive your free copy of Snack and Shine Bright. You’ll want to refer to this resource often.

Ten Tips to Help Create Balance in Your Life by Rachel Stokes

Whether you have children or not, balance is a word that comes up a lot. We’ve all been there; a huge week of work or study, social occasions, relationships to maintain, a house to keep clean, mouths to feed, pets to walk, many things to be done. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness and feel frazzled. I’ve been there, I’m sure I’m not alone.

I came across this blog post at just the right time. It was exactly the words I needed to read to get me through a huge week. This topic is close to my heart and I just had to share it with you!

Rachel StokesRachel Stokes is incredibly passionate about health and wellbeing, particularly preventative health care. Her beautiful blog and Facebook page provides invaluable knowledge about the nutrients our bodies need for vitality. Nutrition is only one aspect of health.  Wellness requires balance in the areas of relationships, career, physical activity, spirituality and having clarity around your life’s purpose.

As a busy, working and studying mother with four children (four!!), I couldn’t think of a better person to help us all out with the pursuit of balance. If anyone can provide insight, valuable practices and simple strategies for us all to create more balance in our lives it is definitely Rachel.

Ten Tips to Help Create Balance in Your Life

Balance-10-self-care-tips-for-the-blog-300x240Juggling a family, career and a social life is a balancing act. There is nothing I love more than being a mum. I also love having a rewarding career and having a social life. However, life can be challenging, it is easy to stop taking care of yourself. You have other people you are responsible for and there are always demands for our attention. In order to be the best mum, friend and wife you can be you have to be healthy, happy, well rested and in balance. I know this is so much easier said than done. I am not here to preach. For years my life had no balance. It took more than a slap in the face with a cold fish to snap me out of it too. That’s a story for another day.  Here are 10 self -care tips you can implement straight away:

  1. Take one day at a time. I read a Buddha saying just today that said: “Do not dwell in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
  2. Spend time with your family and friends. For me this means scheduling activities so that I can maintain healthy relationships. My husband and I have just started scheduling fortnightly date nights. We are literally passing ships and needed to do something to bring the relationship back into balance. We could probably upgrade it to weekly. Fortnightly is a start. I schedule to catch up with my friends regularly, sometimes it is to go for a coffee, other times it’s a swim or a walk or a family BBQ. Consider other areas of your life that you may want to commit some time to. For example, spiritual growth, personal growth, career development and plan them into your weekly schedule.
  3. Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet and eat healthy foods. I know this sounds ridiculously simple but it’s also ridiculously easy to eat bad foods. They just seem so convenient. You will function better if you eliminate highly processed foods and refined sugars out of your diet. Foods have an amazing ability to support digestion, heal the gut, strengthen immunity, fight infection, reduce inflammation, enhance mood, boost IQ, build muscle and much more. There are a gazillion resources on eating well. Don’t get too overwhelmed with it all. Keep it simple: Increase fresh foods and drink more water to crowd out the junk.
  4. Hire a health or life coach for additional support or find a friend to be your accountability partner. Discuss your goals, your dreams, the vision you have for your future. Let the coach help you to break it down into achievable and doable chunks.
  5. Take breaks. Take short breaks, long breaks, weekend breaks. You must take time to renew and rejuvenate. Today I felt like I was getting nowhere, I was so frustrated with myself. I work mostly from home so I took 5 minutes to go outside feed the chickens and have a jump on the trampoline. The short break allowed me to refocus and start again. When I worked at the hospital, instead of having breaks in the lunch room I would take a stroll outside or sit and have lunch outside in the fresh air.
  6. Breathe frequently. Dr Andrew Weil has a great breathing exercise he calls the 4-7-8 breath. You can do anywhere anytime. Learn how to do it here. Dr Weil recommends practicing twice a day. It’s a tool you will have in your back pocket so to speak. Use it to help you fall asleep, overcome food cravings or whenever you are aware of tension building. I was attending one of Dr Weil’s lectures and he stopped right in the middle of class and taught us this.  At first I thought it was so weird but now I love this technique and use it daily.
  7. Move your body. Exercise energises your body and clears your mind. If you’re not fit, start with a ten minute gentle walk and increase it by two minutes each day. Within twenty days you will be walking half an hour a day.
  8. Don’t compare yourself to others. Full stop.
  9. Spend time with supportive people.
  10. Keep a gratitude journal. Being thankful helps us to focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have. Every time you have a positive thought it literally changes your brain and the hormones that are released in your body. Dr Caroline Leaf is an expert on how thoughts affect our emotions and our bodies and teaches how to break the cycle of toxic thinking. As you think, your thoughts are activated, which in turn activates your attitude. Your attitude is all of your thoughts put together and reflects your state of mind. This attitude is reflected in the chemical secretions that are released. Positive thoughts and gratitude cause the secretion of the correct amounts of chemicals and negative attitudes distort the chemical secretions. This distortion of chemicals, over time, can result in ill health. Gratitude and thankfulness lay the foundation for health and peace. Start by writing down just one thing a day that you are thankful for and each day add to your list. Also start to pay attention to where your mind goes most of the time. Each time your mind strays toward a negative thought replace it with a positive thought. When you practice gratitude your world begins to look brighter.

Visit Rachel Stokes Nutrition and Wellness for more inspiration for balanced living and make sure you check out her delicious recipes!

Which of these tips will you try this week? Which one interests you the most? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

How to have a sugar free Easter…really!

easter-eggs-3343Let’s face it; Easter is the holiday for sugar. We can’t set foot into a supermarket without passing the aisles full of chocolate bunnies, eggs and hot cross buns. In fact, we’ve had to ignore these shelves since just days after Christmas!

If you have been trying to eat healthier, reduce or give up sugar or if you have seen That Sugar Film, then you are probably cringing at the thought of all the chocolate and sugary treats that will surely be on offer over Easter.

Personally, I have never really been into the Easter egg part of Easter. When I was a kid I would often still have an Easter egg collection in September. These days, I rarely eat chocolate. A sugar free Easter will probably be very easy for me. Would it be easy for you?

Whether you are religious or not, Easter will mean something to you. Maybe it is the best time of year for you to go camping, or possibly you are just counting down the days for a four day long weekend. What does Easter mean to you? For me, it is definitely about family, food and enjoying the outdoors! Easter brunch in the park with the family, with lots of food and conversation.

So, when did Easter become all about chocolate? I have a huge issue with the commercialism of significant holidays. Why don’t we take Easter back and begin some of our own traditions? Traditions that don’t involve sugar!

So how can you make this Easter sugar free? Here are some ideas to replace Easter eggs with Easter gifts, healthy treats and fun. There is something here for all ages.

Presents and activities for kidseggcup2

  • A soft, cuddly Easter bunny toy
  • An egg painting kit
  • Instead of an egg hunt, set up a treasure hunt
  • Easter craft, think Easter bonnets, baskets etc
  • A gorgeous egg cup and warmer like the one here that I am gifting my 2 year old neice

For teens

  • An itunes card
  • A movie voucher
  • Magazines or DVD’s as gifts – these should keep them occupied over the holidays too!

For all

Easter does not have to be expensive or sugar focussed. How will you celebrate a sugar free Easter? Do you think it’s possible?