Don’t Fear the Fat

fat versus fat

The eighties have a lot to answer for. Aside from dodgy perms and the rubik’s cube, this decade is solely responsible for kickstarting our fear of fats. The decade saw an upsurge in fitness with celebrities such as Jane Fonda leading our obsession with health, beauty and youthfulness. More people than ever before spent money on diets, health club memberships, and home fitness equipment. Large corporate food manufacturers cottoned on, and soon ‘Low Fat’ versions of everything began appearing in supermarkets. These miracle foods seemed to be a dieters dream, but what were they replacing all that non existent fat with? Sugar. We were all so excited that the fat had disappeared, we never thought to question the potential damage refined sugar would inflict on our collective waistline.

As the addition of refined sugar increases in the foods we consume, so the obesity crisis continues. Coincidence? There is a shift in thinking. We’re slowly waking up to the fact those fats were not so bad after all. And in fact some fats, far from damaging our health, can dramatically improve it!

Here are 5 high fat food recipes and some very good reasons to embrace them!

1 Avocado

2 Chia Seeds

3 Coconut Oil

4 Macadamia Nuts

5 Flaxseeds

1 Avocado

Avocados are indeed high in fat. As a result it’s a food often shunned by dieters, but in truth avocado fats are actually good for you. It’s true, avocado is a high-fat fruit (about 75-80% of its calories come from fat), but the fat contained in avocado is unusual and provides some awesome research-based health benefits.

Monounsaturated fats, such as those in avocado, are “good” fats that helps lower bad cholesterol. Over half of the total fat in avocado is provided in the form of oleic acid. Oleic acid helps our digestive tract form transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids. As a monounsaturated fatty acid, avocado has also been shown to help lower our risk of heart disease.

Not only are these little green gems super good, they’re also super versatile. Whether adding them to salads, blending them in smoothies or making a delicious guacamole dip with them, avocados also come with an additional host of health benefits;

They’re hugely anti-inflammatory. Internal inflammation is responsible for a whole host of diseases. Avocado can ease the pain of arthritis and help to prevent osteoporosis.

Avocados are an excellent source of potassium (containing more than bananas)

An average avocado contains around 4 grams of protein, which is much more than most other fruit.

GUACAMOLE DIP

avocado

INGREDIENTS

1 small avocado

Juice of half a lime

Pinch of sea salt

Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)

1/4 a red onion

HERE’S HOW;

Add the lot to your chopper or food processor and blitz! You may need a touch more lime juice if your avocado isn’t over ripe. Serve on a rice cake with fresh cucumber and coriander leaves.

2 Chia Seeds

“Chia” means strength and with good reason! Chia seeds come from a flowering plant native to Southern Mexico and Northern Guatemala, and history suggests it was a very important cultivated food crop for the Aztecs.

These days Chia seeds are better known to us as the little black seeds you add water to, to make cress like grass animals at primary school!

Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are one of the richest plant-based omega sources and therefore a great alternative to fish oil for vegans. The omega-3s in chia seeds can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and reduce high cholesterol.

Whether you sprinkle them on foods, add them to smoothies or make a meal of them in their own right, chia seeds come with a whole host of additional health benefits;

Chia is being studied as a potential natural treatment for type-2 diabetes because of its ability to slow down digestion.

One serving of chia seeds provides 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium

The high-quality protein in chia seeds provides all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source

CHAI & CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING

chocolate chia seed pudding

INGREDIENTS (makes 1 large jar)

1 tin of coconut milk (be careful to ensure it’s just milk and water ~ not chemical nasties)

1 chai tea bag

Handful of cardamon pods

2 star anise

Tablespoon cacao powder

3 tablespoons of manuka honey

5 tablespoons of chia seeds

Raspberries ~ grated coconut ~ 100% chocolate < to decorate

HERE’S HOW;

Warm half a tin of coconut milk gently in a pan. Add a chai tea bag, the cardamon pods, star anise and a tablespoon and a half of manuka honey. Warm gently for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to ensure the milk has absorbed those delicious warm spice flavours. Carefully strain the milk from the added ingredients and place in the fridge to cool.

Warm the second half of the coconut milk adding cacao powder and a tablespoon and a half of manuka honey. Ensure the cacao is fully stirred in. Again place in the fridge to cool.

Once both milk mixtures are cold, stir 2 and a half tablespoons of chia seeds into each and leave on the side. The chia seeds will gently expand, forming a jelly like consistency. This happens over the course of an hour or two. You can stir the chia mixture every now and again to ensure they expand evenly. Without putting you off, it’s almost like frog spawn!!

Gently spoon a layer of chocolate chia into the bottom of a jar, add a chai chia layer, then chocolate, then chai ~ repeat until it’s all used up! I decorated my pudding with raspberries, grated coconut and a few 100% dark chocolate shavings.

Place back in the fridge until ready to serve. So super healthy, its allowed for breakfast!

3 Coconut Oil

The popularity of coconut oil appears to be a rising trend, but in truth it’s been a best kept nutrition secret in tropical regions of the world for hundreds of years. Coconuts and the food products derived from them, are one of the very few things that have nutritionists completely divided! Some swear by its properties, opponents highlight that oil made from coconuts actually contains a high concentration (85 to 90 per cent) of saturated fat. Saturated fats, certainly those derived from animal products, are generally regarded as the baddies when it comes to heart disease.

So what’s the deal? Well it seems that not all saturated fats are created equal. The saturated fats in coconut oil are different to those we’re advised to restrict in animal products. More than 50 percent of a coconuts saturated-fat content is lauric acid. A recent analysis of 60 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that even though lauric acid raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, it boosts HDL (good) cholesterol even more.

I’m a huge coconut oil fan! Always organic, always virgin, I cook with it, I bake with it and I smother it on my skin. My body absolutely loves it. Aside from the fats it has some amazing additional benefits;

It’s an excellent conditioner and helps the re-growth process of damaged hair.

Coconut oil has been shown to prevent and resolve candida (a disease caused from excessive and uncontrolled growth of yeast in the stomach). It provides relief from the inflammation caused by candida, both externally and internally.

Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its anti-fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.

RAW BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE

cheesecake

INGREDIENTS

Half a tin of coconut milk

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

2 handfuls of cashew nuts

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Half a teaspoon of vanilla paste

Handful of blackberries / raspberries or mixed berries

BASE

2 handfuls of chopped dried dates

Teaspoon of maple syrup

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

HERE’S HOW;

I use a springform miniature cake tin to make this dessert. It keeps the round form perfectly. The base layer may stick a little to the bottom of the tin but you can use a sharp knife to free it.

Blitz the base layer in a food processor. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and press gently into the bottom to form your cheesecake base. Place in the freezer.

Wash your food processor (you want the middle layer pure white) and blend all the white layer ingredients together (that’s everything else, aside from the berries). Pour half the mixture onto the cooled base layer and return to the freezer.

Add the berries to the food processor and blitz again. Wait until the white layer you placed in the freezer has set (around 45 minutes) and pour the berry layer on top. I love sprinkling some dried rose petals on to the cheesecake at this point so that they set into the top layer. Return to the freezer.

The cheesecake will need around a further 30-45 minutes to set fully. It keeps beautifully in the freezer, but make sure you place it in the fridge for an hour or two before serving it to allow it to thaw.

I love to serve it with fresh berries and pretty flowers

4 Flaxseeds

Flax or linseed as it’s sometimes known, is not a new food. It’s actually one of the older, original health foods, but there is a definite flaxseed resurgence! Despite their tiny size, flaxseeds pack quite a nutritional punch. I love adding them to granola bars, porridge and smoothies. They also make a much more nutritious replacement to breadcrumbs as a crunchy topping on lasagne, and baking with them will not destroy their benefits even at high temperatures.

Most of the fat contained within flaxseeds is polyunsaturated, with only a very small percentage coming from saturated fat. Flaxseeds come out on top as the very best vegan source of omega-3s. In addition they also provide a whole host of other benefits;

Flaxseeds contain a high quality protein.

The combination of oil and fibre makes flax seeds an ideal laxative

Flaxseeds are a great source of B vitamins, iron and zinc

FLAXSEED POWER NUT SMOOTHIE

chia nut smoothie

INGREDIENTS

1 banana

1/4 of a pineapple (juiced)

100ml almond or coconut milk

50g almonds

2 tablespoons of chia seed

2 tablespoons of flax seed

2 tablespoons of tahini

HERE’S HOW;

Juice the pineapple, add everything, including the pineapple juice, to your blender or nutri machine and blitz until smooth. I like to sprinkle desiccated coconut, chia seeds and cinnamon on top! Drink slowly with a straw and almost ‘chew’ your smoothie to ensure balance digestion.

5 Macadamia Nuts

Raw, unsalted, unsugared nuts are proof that good things really do come in small packages! Crammed full of protein, vitamins, and minerals, plus of course those heart healthy good fats. When it comes to monounsaturated fatty acids, macadamias are your best source. Smooth and creamy, they’re great for adding to smoothies and other recipes.

I love nut butters, I find nuts a brilliantly simple on-the-go snack, and more recently I’ve started making cheese with them! I kid you not. I spent some time in Thailand last month. Dairy in diet is virtually unheard of there. During my stay I didn’t eat cheese, cream or butter and didn’t miss it. If anything, my skin felt tons better without dairy, so upon returning to the UK I continued to leave it out of my diet. I do love pizza, lasagne and other recipes, which traditionally require cheese. When making these dishes I use the popular alternative of nuts and nutritional yeast to create a vegan ‘cheese’. It works brilliantly and offers a high protein, high in good fats, dairy substitute, which comes with even more additional benefits;

Macadamias are an excellent source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc.

Macadamias are a rich source of Vitamin A, iron and protein.

Due to their perfectly balanced composition of vitamins and minerals macadamia nuts promote healthy bone and teeth formation and regulate the body’s fluid balance and immune system.

VEGAN MACADAMIA CHEESE

lasagne

100g Macadamia nuts

100g Cashew nuts

3 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast

Juice of half a lemon

Water (just enough to cover all the nuts when in blender)

Herbs and spices to roll your cheese in

HERE’S HOW:

Soak the cashews in water for 1 to 2 hours. The macadamias wont need soaking as they’re creamy enough. Add the nuts to your food processor and ensure there is just enough water to cover them. Pulse and blend until the nuts begin to form a smooth, creamy mixture (If you are not using a high speed blender, you may need to occasionally stop and scrape the mixture off the sides) Just ensure the nuts are well blended and the mixture is creamy.

Place a sieve or colander into a bowl (this will stop the whey, which will be strained out in the process, from making a mess on the table). Place a cheese cloth inside the sieve. Then pour your nut mixture onto the cloth.

Place the bag inside another one to make sure non of the mixture can escape when placing a weight on top. Place a weight on top and place away from draughts. (inside a switched off oven is a good option)

Walk away for 24 hours. Transfer the ‘cheese’ to the fridge for half an hour to harden, shape into logs and then roll into your favourite herbs and spices ~ Thyme, Marjoram, Parsley, Oregano, Sage, Basil etc

Store in the fridge and eat on buckwheat crackers or use in lasagne and pizza recipes!

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