Integrity: doing what you say you’ll do 

This morning (and every morning for the past two months,) I have made it a daily habit to listen to podcasts that start my day off with either laughter, (Russell Brand on Radio X) or aligns my focus so that I can get the maximum benefit from tasks that I get to complete. I’ll be honest, when you wake up at 4:15 every single morning to make it in time for the 5am class, you have to coax you brain into deciding that you will apply the same (if not greater,) level of focus, determination and joy that early, as you would for a later time when you’re slightly more awake and pleasant to be around without the need of caffeine. 
When you train that early, you have to be mindful in every single thing that you get to do. In previous posts, I’ve touched on how practicing mindfulness, (i.e. changing my mindset) has helped in improving my performance as an athlete and recently my quality of life. As I progress on this journey, developing a healthy mindset (not just for sports performance,) is becoming increasingly important. This morning I was listening to a podcast by Brute Strength on ‘mindsets and gaining the edge,’ with 2nd fittest woman in the world, Kara Webb and there was so much gold in this podcast that I found myself having to do more reining in than I typically do, to my ridiculously ADHD brain that wants to spew out everything all at once! 

A word that came up in this podcast, and stuck with me, is the word  ‘integrity.’

integrity

– The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. 

– The state of being whole and undivided. 

It’s a word we use to describe people that we respect, admire or simply want to be like! I am very blessed to have coaches (and people,) who are loaded with this trait, and I’ve learnt (and continue to learn,) so much from them. If you have people like these in your life, treasure them. These people are great! These people are important, make sure to high 5 them next time you see them! Do you know what else is great & even more important? Personal integrity to yourself (comes in at about 35:02 minutes in the podcast…I’m on my third listen of this 🙈)
What you tell yourself you’re going to do AND then carrying out that action, speaks volumes about the person that you are to yourself. Are you undivided, honest and steadfast to the word or promises that you make to yourself? Are you a person of integrity to yourself? Do you honor the promises you make to yourself whether health wise or (for me especially,) in your faith walk? 

When you honor the promises that you make to yourself, and do them CONSISTENTLY, you begin to build personal trust in yourself, in your efforts, in your entirety as a living being. 

I had to ask myself this question: 

‘Do you trust yourself? Are you a person of integrity to Aurélie?’



Here’s the thing that I discovered as I attempted to answer this question; I couldn’t come up with a solid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. In my head these two answers were swirling around : ‘sometimes when I know I’m good at something, yeah then I definitely trust myself’ or ‘yeah when things are going well and usually when I feel like it, I’d say I have good personal integrity to myself.’  The goal is to get to a place where you can say: ‘YES I am a person of integrity to [insert your name over here] all the damn time!’ 

Life will offer you a multitude of situations (and people too haha,) to test the mettle of your character. Who is the person that rises up when demands are made on the moral fabric that ties you together? A great question to ask yourself when these situations (or people crop up,) occur: ‘is this true to the person that I want to be to myself? Will this enhance the relationship that I have with myself as a person of integrity?’ If it doesn’t fulfill that criteria, don’t compromise, no dilly dallying over here, say no! 

I am at a beautiful stage in my life where (slowly…slow doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,) I’m cutting off all the things that don’t align with the person I want to be (firstly) to myself, and then to others. I’m learning to match every moment of my existence to the purposes that I would most like to pursue. It’s what we all need to do, not the purposes that have been assigned to us based on gender, race and/or socio-economic status, not the purposes that people would like you to pursue. You have to be the one that decides these purposes. 
I’ll be honest, I don’t always get it right, habits take time to change (don’t make that your excuse/crutch though,) but I’m chasing greater personal integrity & excellence to myself and that’s something that should never stop. 
Not for me. Definitely not for you! 

The aftermath of listening to this podcast was a 5K run that I had half-heartedly planned 🙃, hence the post- run image for this post. Only subscribe to the Brute Strength podcast if you’re serious about bettering yourself; you just might end up going for a 10K run 😉 

Recommended reading: ‘Getting things done: the art of stress-free productivity.’ David Allen 

‘A champion is not the winner. A champion is a person who comes through in the final hour.’

Baby got back (issues)

I’m every woman…just ask my friends about my mood swings 😂 My favorite woman to be is the one that gives a damn about her health spiritually, mentally and physically. The one that tempers discipline with kindness and isn’t obsessing over what she’s had for dinner…even if it was four (okay five,) doughnuts 🙈 My favorite woman to be is the one that is decisive, no dilly dallying, and in control of everything going on in her life because her end goal is to have lived a life that will have firstly made God proud and then herself, I’ve purposely left out making others proud. You’re not here to be Nutella.
As I write this post, I’d love to say that I am always that woman who is in control of everything. Dynamic, minimal tantrum throwing (mine are always to friends thankfully,) and I would love to say that I am the girl who ALWAYS remembers to do her back strengthening exercises 🙈🙈🙈

But I’m not that girl yet.

Most evenings I have to rush through them and then quickly apply my favorite massage bar from LUSH (you can get it here, a treat for sore muscles!!!) and convince myself that I’ve done enough, when in truth I’ve done the bare minimum. 

For the past couple of months, I have been incredibly stressed to the point where I wake up in the middle of the night, heartbeat racing, as though at any moment my body would decide that life is a bit too much and decide to breakdown, if only to get me to stop. For someone with a personality like mine, being out of control is not something that I love or welcome. I don’t like anything being decided for me and I certainly do not like having to stop. Stop is something that I don’t do. Stop was something that I was forced to do when I found out that I have an extra vertebra, it’s called the L6 phenomenon…not really, but I call it the L6 phenomenon. If you remember anything about Biology in high school or maybe went on to study human anatomy in college, you’ll know that the spine is made up of 33 individual bones stacked one on top of each other and beautifully fused as only God knows how. (Ain’t it lovely how God has crafted the human body?) Your spine is divided into 3 parts: your cervical region, your thoracic region and the one that was really important for my L6 phenomenon, the lumbar region/curve. 
Image from Mayfield Clinic 

Usually you have 5 vertebrae in your lumbar region but as you would have guessed with all the L6 name dropping, this girl over here has an extra vertebra. A sixth lumbar vertebra, underneath the fifth (obvs, 6 does come after 5 after all haha!) and while usually this isn’t a problem for most people, I am not like most people 😂 so of course it would wreak a little bit of havoc on me. It started off with mild discomfort, graduating to niggles that would be painful but bearable, and then it got to the point where the pain would be debilitating and I’d cry during wods and sometimes even afterwards 🙈 I remember feeling a horrible pull in my lower back during Karen, (150 wallballs for time,) my bestie standing next to me telling me to stop and I don’t know what I muttered to her,but I kept going and at the end of it, collapsed on the floor and started crying. I even remember what I was wearing on that day…my turquoise blue Nike leggings that make my bum look even more amazing than it usually does.

Now you’d think that an experience like that would cause the alarm to go off in your head and most people would by then, go get their back checked out. Me? I like to live on the wild side and we’ve established, I am not like most people 😂 I suffered (and suffer it was,) for a little bit longer until I finally listened to my coach and went for x-rays, physiotherapy and needling. I was struggling with lower back pain because of this extra vertebra that was never meant to be there. It was creating friction with the first vertebra in my sacral region and coupled with a core that wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought my 6 pack denoted 🙄 it was a recipe for disaster. If I kept medicating the symptoms and never truly dealt with the root cause of the pain, this could have been the thing to rule me out from not just CrossFit, but sports in general. I needed to take care of my back, and properly this time. 

For a month I couldn’t do anything but yoga, and as much as I love yoga, I had a lot of sessions in my room where I’d be yawning endlessly, but I needed to rebuild the foundation. A year of neglecting my back health had culminated to me getting to a point where standing hurt, sitting hurt, everything hurt. I needed to learn how to go slow so that in the future, I could go further. After the month of yoga, I started to add in short runs. The distances or the speed were nothing to write home to your local newspaper about, but it was enough to get my body back into the swing of things. Then another month later, I could go back to my greatest love, CrossFit!!! It was nothing but humbling: a 10 minute row, which I still can’t believe my coach wasn’t joking about and then the slowest, most disgusting Cindy (20 min. AMRAP 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 air squats,) that I have ever done. My body was still trying to remember how to do gymnastics, where was that muscle memory that people spoke of?
For a few weeks…right now even, I still feel like the worst of beginners, and it has been frustrating but I also have in my foundation rebuild corner, the best coaches ever! When I do get down on myself, it never lasts for long because of the guidance that they give me. The phrase that I have to keep repeating to myself is, ‘patience baby chicken. Go slow to go fast.’ Remember my positivity band that I wrote about over here? That’s keeping me in check to not complain and instead do the hard work, attack every wod as furiously as I can and to give it my all. My PVC pipe is getting a lot of action as I fix movements that I thought I knew how to execute. Squatting without pulling my chest forward, and not for a single second compensating on the natural curve that my spine should have. Learning how to have good posture in every single movement and working on technique has exposed major areas of opportunity and I can’t wait to meet the athlete that I will have become in another three months time. I still can’t do a lot of extensions, still hurts but in due time, I know I’ll get there. 

What’s the lesson for you? If you’re suffering with any kind of pain: back, neck, shoulder or even emotional pain, SEEK HELP! Don’t be the stubborn Sally that I am (back pain unfortunately does not get rid of all obstinate tendencies,) when on top of emotional stress now you also have physical stress forcing you into a corner where you have to slow down. It is a beautiful thing to be able to move and while we have these bodies, we should do as much as we can to make sure it’s running as well as it possibly can. 

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

The Truth About Oreo’s

Every girl and boy, their mama, grandmothers and even their grandpapi’s, know that I looooooooove Oreo’s. My nickname is Oreo. I am a walking Oreo, just as sweet and D-LICIOUS, confession: I have always wanted to spell delicious like that!

Oreo’s are the easiest thing anyone can use to buy my friendship/my love/my allegiance and undying loyalty. Need me to hide a body for you? Oreo’s. Need me to donate a kidney? Oreo’s!

Oreo’s are the answer to everything!

‘Hey Oreo, would you like an Oreo?’

Me: ‘FORRRRRR SURRRREEEEEE you crazy cat!

Who says no to Oreo’s? Usually… NOT THIS GIRL!

Oreo’s moved from being something that I would have as a cheat, or if I had been exceptionally good (i.e. the perfect instagram vegan: juicing her kale, eating her bananas, dicing her pumpkins, you get the point!) to then over time as the addiction grew, Oreo’s simply became a part of my every day life, now that I think of it…there was a study done by Conneticut College stating that Oreo’s are as addictive as cocaine…hmm, must be why no one ever falls out of love with me 🤔

All jokes aside, I like to think of myself as being very ethically aware. In fact, ethics and my concern of this lack of ethics especially when it comes to the food we consume, was one of the motivating factors behind my decision to switch to a 100% plantbased i.e. vegan lifestyle, (can you guess who celebrated 3 years of veganism on the 18th??? THISSSS GIRL!!!)

Being plantbased presents with it a few challenges, I’ve often had people ask me what I have as a cheat meal and it’s usually bread. Boy do I love my carbs, I like to think bread is the reason why my legs are so strong, now about that strength travelling all the way up to my arms so that they too can be as strong as they look… All the vegan chocolate that I’ve tried thus far, still leaves me wanting for more, so Oreo’s (aside from the little disclaimer that states they’re produced in a factory that handles milk and eggs,) were the closest I could get to a cheat meal.

This morning I’m clearing out my emails (which was about as overdue as the 3 weeks of laundry that I still have to do,) when I opened this email from Crush Mag Online which speaks about the devastating effects that the harvesting of palm oil has on the environment. About a year ago, I started working for LUSH SA as their regional trainer, and with that comes training staff on sustainability and ethical buying practices that the brand employs when it comes to sourcing of natural ingredients. One of those that popped up a few months ago, and again today, was palm oil.

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the palm fruit. Although these trees originate from Western Africa, they can pretty much flourish wherever heat and rainfall are plentiful! 85% of all palm oil obtained globally is produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia and most of the time using methods that aren’t sustainable. The palm oil industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production.

The lack of sustainable and ethically sound harvesting methods is causing thousands of animals to lose their natural habitat and in turn removing the biodiversity that exists (or used to exist in these countries.) This means that indirectly we’re removing from the enviroment the ability that forests have to capture the carbon that is causing climate change and in turn we see an increase in soil erosion, smoke air pollution (due to the fires used to clear these forests.)

So what’s the fuss about palm oil and why should we all embark on this 28 day challenge that Say No To Palm Oil, has created?

As stated above, palm oil is everywhere, and because it is so widely used and the popular choice amongst manufacturers, the harvesting of palm oil will continue to fuel deforestation. As consumers, the power is in our hands (whether we realise it or not,) and although avoiding all products that contain palm oil is only one half of the solution, (to find alternative sources would require more land and potentially introduce unsustainable methods of development.) Unless a company can validate that they’ve obtained their palm oil through sustainable methods (which unfortunately most don’t want to expose their unethical sourcing,) it’s time we stop supporting these companies, and minimizing as much as we can, the purchasing of products that contain palm oil.

This handy list (which is super easy to print,) gives you the legal names used for palm oil, and sadly my beloved Oreo’s contain palm oil, so guess who’s kissing them goodbye? This girl. Carry this list with you when in doubt and for those of you aiming to be ethically aware consumers, this list will help you when you’re trying to figure out whether your favourite cookies contain palm oil. Every little bit helps.

  1. Elaeis guineensis
  2. Etyl palmitate
  3. Glyceryl
  4. Hydrogenated palm glycerides
  5. Octyl palmitate
  6. Palm fruit oil
  7. Palm kernel
  8. Palm kernel oil
  9. Palm stearine
  10. Palmate
  11. Palmitate
  12. Palmitic acid
  13. Palmitoyl oxostearamide
  14. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3
  15. Palmityl alcohol
  16. Palmolein
  17. Sodium kernelate
  18. Sodium laureth sulfate
  19. Sodium lauryl lactylate/sulphate
  20. Sodium lauryl sulfate
  21. Sodium palm kernelate
  22. Stearate
  23. Stearic acid
  24. Vegetable fat
  25. Vegetable oil

Greenpeace have these beautiful pictures of the Orangutans and the Sumatran tigers that lose their homes due to the deforestation caused by high demand of palm oil. These pictures for me were enough to convince me that I will no longer buy Oreo’s. On the plus side, at least I’ll have .5% less junk in my trunk and maybe my running will get faster because I will be .5% less weighed down by the booty! 😂

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GP04U1T_Low_res_with_credit_line

Keen for more info? Want to check the facts for yourself? Here’s some great resource: saynotopalmoil.com | mongabay.com | greenpeace.org |whatispalmoil.weebly.com 

Will You Flex For Me?

An odd request right? I remember staring at the guy in disbelief when he asked me that. I’ve always been very conscious of my arms. I used to be scared that it would intimidate whoever i was crushing on. Now I don’t care, if any man feels that my arms are too muscular, the easy thing to do is for him to start lifting!

My obsession with my weight started when I was in high school , I struggled with my weight for years. It was a vicious cycle of being happy with myself when I managed to survive on that one meal a day, (most days it was a bowl of cereal heavily laden with sugar.) Then there would be the days of self-loathing when I felt that I had eaten too much and the quick fix solution was to bring it all back up. A day turned into a week, a week turned into a month and before I knew it I was bulimic. It was easy to hide, you excuse yourself from the table just before everyone finishes eating, or you offer to help with cleaning up the table. No one ever asked any questions.

This is what I did for 3 and a half years, up until I graduated from high school, and moved to London for university, I realised that I had to work on the relationship I had with my body. I’m glad that I wasn’t too stubborn to hear God speaking to me in those dark twisted moments in the bathroom, that I needed to stop. I couldn’t carry on this way. Bulimia gave way to binge eating, and I would go through periods where I would eat healthily for a few days and then I would binge on chocolate, Kit Kats were my favourite. In 2012, I read ‘You Are Not What You Weigh,’ by Lisa Bevere and it completely changed the way I saw my body. I began to see myself as the spiritual being that God saw me as. I no longer sought to find confidence based on what I looked like, whether I was 2 kilograms lighter or if I could zip up those skinny jeans. I started to focus more on who I was on the inside and I know that sounds like a horrible cliché, but it’s what matters the most.

The less I worried about stepping on the scale, the better I felt. I started to focus on eating for energy and performance as opposed to eating for aesthetics. One method can be very detrimental and the other is healing.  The more I focused on how I could better fuel my body for performance, the less I cared about the number on the scale.

When I became a vegan, I thought that I’d finally become as skinny as I had always dreamt of being. The weight dropped but not how I expected it to. I was leaner and my body eased into a weight that I have been able to maintain without any huge effort on my part, for the past 5 years. It’s the funniest thing when people say that I look healthy. I have to stop myself from laughing or from spewing out a sarcastic comment, I mean I’m eating healthier, am I supposed to look emaciated? Or perhaps people kind of expect your muscles (and your ass,) to waste away. That didn’t happen with me. In fact if you look at any pictures I had pre-vegan days, my butt was probably just a little bit smaller…okay I’m lying, I’ve never known what it is to have a small bum…I probably never will. I have found comfort in knowing that my butt gives me that extra boost I need when I’m squatting haha, those thighs have to be good for something right? The biggest lesson that I have learnt is that I am more than the number on the scale. I’m more than a dress size or a pant size. We all are. It would be such a shame for us to go through life never realising the worth and potential that lies in us. All because we have allowed ourselves to become fixated on a number that bears no importance on who we are as people. I have found greater joy in focusing on being strong. Physically yes but most importantly mentally and emotionally

So to answer the question of whether I flexed or not…I didn’t and I kind of regret it, I mean how many more opportunities will I ever get to flex again? Or be asked to flex? Except maybe here on the blog, you guys won’t hold that against me will you?

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Tomato Soup

So we’ve entered into the first month of autumn here in South Africa. There’s a chill in the atmosphere, mornings are a lot cooler than they were in the heat of summer which means I find myself enjoying the time that I spend in the kitchen a lot more than in summer. I am a huge lover of soups. I love to make mine from scratch because then I’m in charge of exactly what I put into my soup and I always make sure to keep the sodium intake at a minimum and pack it with tons of flavour. Tomato soup sounds pretty basic, I mean all you have to do is whizz up tomatoes and that’s it right? Wrong. In order for your tomato soup to not taste like pureed tomatoes, bland and acidic, you have to take some time and throw in some extra additions.

Here’s what you’ll need:

10 large tomatoes diced

1 and a half red onion diced

A can of coconut milk

A handful of fresh basil and oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

I call this easy tomato soup because it is super easy to make. All you have to do is place the tomatoes with the onions in a pan and add just a little bit of oil to get the pan sizzling. Once the tomatoes have been on the stove for roughly 2 minutes, put them in a blender with the fresh herbs. You won’t really need to add any water because the tomatoes release a lot of their own juices. Blend until you have a smooth consistency and pour the whole lot into a pan adding the coconut milk and let it simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to season and boom! Yummy tomato soup done.

How easy is that?

For a little bit more punch to your soup, add some habañero chilli paste, it’ll light your fire!

Plum & Basil Sandwich

This is one of my favourite sandwiches to have. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy to cook, this sandwich is awesome because it fills me up without making me feel like I’m going to explode.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 slices of rye bread

1 plum (stone removed and sliced)

1 tablespoon of tahini

Fry’s chunky strips

A handful of basil leaves

Cherry tomatoes

It’s pretty straight-forward, everyone knows how to make a sandwich, you just throw everything together. The plums are an interesting addition because you’d think, they might not work but they add a sweetness to the sandwich without it feeling overwhelming or tasting weird. Tomato and basil has always been one of my favourite combinations. In fact I try to eat tomatoes in almost every sandwich I make because of their anti-carcinogenic effects. This is a sandwich that packs nutrition and delivers on taste, at the end of the day, when we eat, our goal should be to fuel our body on quality so that it performs better.

What are some of your favourite sandwich combinations?

 

Overnight Oats

I used to be extremely militant about what I ate, when I ate and how much I ate. Cue the eating disorder that ravaged me for a good 3 years.

Even when I thought I had recovered, portion control was still a very difficult thing for me to master. I would eat small amounts of food, so it was no surprise that after training, I would be heavily fatigued with barely enough energy to do anything else afterwards.

When I became a vegan, I learnt how to use food to heal and fuel my body, as opposed to punishing it for being too big, not skinny enough or just not right. Now eating is my favourite activity.

One of my favourite things to have for breakfast is overnight oats. Whenever I am pressed for time, this is what I have. It’s quick and easy and so good for you. Oats get a bad rep for being boring but with a few simple additions, you can make oats exciting and the taste is far from bland. Oats are great because they keep you fuller for longer, I like to use traditional old fashioned oats with no added sugar or flavouring in them, as the base for this recipe. Oats contain beta glucan, which is a soluble fibre that aids in fighting and preventing cancer and obesity. It also helps in reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and maintaining a healthy heart.

Here’s my overnight oats recipe.

You’ll need:

  • A generous helping of oats (you choose how much you want, you can either make enough for the next day or the whole week.)
  • Non-GMO soy milk (or any other dairy free alternative.)
  • A seed mix of chia seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds and sesame seeds, this is a great way to pump in some omega 3,6 and 9 into your system.
  • 2 bananas sliced
  • coconut blossom sugar (optional

The rest is pretty straight forward. Cover the oats with enough milk to completely cover them, then add your seed mix and bananas. Stir well and place in the fridge. The next day, your oats will have a creamy texture and you can either choose to have them as they are or to heat them up a little bit in the microwave. How’s that for a quick breakfast?

Buttah baby…

Buttah not butter… it’s smoother, creamier, melts in your mouth and is most probably a word that was invented by some crazy scientist who found the formula to perfect buttah! I’ve been searching all over for coconut butter. I am obsessed with coconuts and wherever I went, all they had was coconut oil (I love that too but I said buttah!) A few weeks ago I read up on how to make coconut butter and even though I don’t own a food processor or a Vitamix, I decided to try it out with my blender.  Thirty minutes later I had smooth creamy coconut butter with a hint of vanilla (another favourite of mine,) and spurred on by this enthusiasm, I decided to make a second batch for my friend, my brother in law and sister. Surprisingly I haven’t been tempted to eat it off a spoon. On bread and in smoothies…well that’s another story. I’ve kept myself from polishing off a jar by thinking about the 5kg that I still have to drop 😦 it’s a lot harder when you’re trying to sculpt existing muscle. My butt and thighs are pretty stubborn!

 

Place all your ingredients in a blender and pulse for five minutes until the dessicated coconut has incorporated into the oils. It’ll look a bit lumpy but don’t panic, it will work out!

Run your blender and keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t overheat or come dangerously close to burning out!

Keep checking (and tasting) with a spoon until you have a smooth, warm liquid. This is the part that requires the most patience because you have to keep blending until the liquid is absolutely smooth. No one enjoys grainy buttah!

Once your butter is completely smooth, pour into glass jars and place in the freezer to set for 15 minutes, after that the coconut butter can be stored in the fridge or a cool dry place.

Enjoy this on toast, porridge, smoothies, on its own. It is pretty yummy! For a toasted coconut butter, lightly toast the coconut in a medium sized frying pan keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Then repeat the same method. The toasted coconut butter has a richer nuttier flavour. My guinea pigs (my bestie, my brother in law,) preferred it to the plain coconut butter. I love both, it was hard to part with these buttahs!

 

Vanilla Lovin’

I love ice cream…who doesn’t? Before I became vegan, my favourite ice cream was Häagen-Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake. The yummy taste of strawberries and the crunch from the bits of cheesecake was amazing. In the past I would joke with my friends that I could never become vegan because of my love for ice cream, but who says you have to give that up? Enter my vanilla lovin’ soft serve nana cream. This is the first of many attempts in me finding my perfect recipe for vegan ice cream, something that could very well rival Häagen-Dazs. I fell in love with this recipe and I know you will too. It’s smooth, packed with banana flavour with a subtle hint of vanilla and coconut and the best part… IT’S GUILT FREE!!!

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You’ll need:

3 bananas that have been sliced and frozen for 8 hours.

1 teaspoon of vanilla seeds

2 teaspoons of organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil

A scant amount of rice milk (coconut milk is a great alternative)

Place all your bananas in a blender and add a little bit of milk to get the blender going. Don’t add too much milk unless you want a smoothie. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend then grab a spoon and enjoy! IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

Coco about you!

I’ve waxed lyrical about the benefits of bananas here, so this time I’ll be giving some love to coconut oil. I am obsessed with the smell of coconuts, the real smell not the artificial kind.  I think it’s one of the reasons why I love coconut oil so much, the smell transports me to a beautiful island where James Franco is rubbing oil on my back and we’re drinking green smoothies together. Fantasies aside, I started using coconut oil on my nails and noticed that they got stronger, grew quicker and maintained their length. I did some research and found out that  coconut oil is a great all-rounder. It’s great for your hair, skin and your body, all of which I can vouch for. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is then converted to monolaurin which has been touted to fight viral and bacterial infections caused by organisms such as Listeria monocytogenesStaphylococcus aureus and Heliobacter pylori (microbiologist that I am, I sense a study on the effects of coconut oil on these organisms hmm…) which cause food poisoning, stomach and duodenal ulcers. The composition of fatty acids in coconut oil (medium chain triglycerides) assimilate well in the body and also help body systems such as the liver in cases of detoxification. Lauric acid makes up 50% of the fats (good fats) found in coconut oil and is beneficial to the heart, it does not increase your LDL’s due to it being a healthier alternative to other cooking oils. It also reduces the risk of  atherosclerosis and damage to the arteries. On the skin I found coconut oil to be best applied as a mask (apply a generous amount to your face, take 5 minutes to massage your face and then use a warm face cloth to wipe it off. The excess can be left to leave you with a gorgeous tropical glow.) It’s also great for treating eczema and preventing premature aging!

 

Breakfast Smoothie

I love smoothies! I am not a huge fan of having solid food in the morning. It’s all about finding what works for you and for me,solid food in the morning usually has me feeling sluggish, maybe a tad grumpy and ready to go back to bed! This smoothie is a great way to refuel after a workout. I typically have it after my morning workout and sometimes during the day if I don’t feel like eating anything too heavy. It’s super yummy, dairy free and vegan. I am having such fun transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1l apple juice

1 banana

1 avocado

2 tablespoons moringa leaf powder

a handful of oats (adjust according to desired consistency, not too much though, we’re not making porridge!)

Here’s why I love this smoothie:

Bananas have a high content of potassium, potassium is an important electrolyte that maintains good cardiovascular health. It lends to maintenance of blood pressure and heart function via the electrical impulses that travel through your body. The conduction of these impulses are what keep cardiac muscle contracting [i.e. your heart beat] at a normal rate and without potassium (lack of potassium is called hypokalaemia, I’m a qualified biomedical scientist, geeky side coming out…) your heart rate will display irregularity and let’s be honest the only time one’s heart should display irregularities is when watching James Franco :-p Bananas are also a great source of fibre, that’s why they’re a favourite of so many runners.

When I was a child I hated avocados, now I can’t get enough of them, I’m obsessed with avocado oil as well. I love avos in guacamole, face masks, on their own, on top of black beans but especially in smoothies.  Like bananas, they are also an excellent source of potassium but I love them for their meaty texture chockfull of monounsaturated fat which boosts your heart health and lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease. I also love that it’s packed with vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin E, a great one for beautiful skin that screams ‘I have a breakfast smoothie everyday!’

Moringa leaf powder is a new addition to my smoothies. My mum has been buying it for almost a year and I never paid attention to it until now.  If you’re anaemic, morning powder can provide you with that boost you need to get your body producing oxygen rich, iron loaded power red cells. It can help in boosting your energy and your stamina. Word of caution; I’ve read that it can also prevent pregnancy so if you’re like me and you’re not trying to fall pregnant or you’re single and not ready to mingle then by all means add this to your smoothie, otherwise steer clear!

Oats are added to add more fibre and bulk to the smoothie. This is a breakfast smoothie therefore it is important to make it as nutrient rich as you can. Oats are high in iron and lower your LDL (low density lipoproteins which are your bad fats that clog your arteries.) They also contain beta-glucans which strengthen your immune system against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. I typically have a big glass of this smoothie and find it very filling. Let me know if you try it, I’d love to know what you think!

*I have a soft spot for James Franco, if you look like him, I might have a soft spot for you too 😉